The artist is launching her debut solo show this Saturday at Analogue Academy
Ella Carroll is an artist from Geelong who is quickly making a name for herself. Her unique child-like style that blends Sanrio inspirations with the mundanity of Australian suburban life creates something that is undeniably hers yet offers something relatable at the same time. Her debut solo exhibition is being held this Saturday, the 27th at Analogue Academy and I sat down with her to chat about her art and what inspires it.
Carroll had told me to come visit her at work, a little place called Paddington Café on High Street, dunno if you’ve heard of it before. It’s easy to spot her from a distance no-doubt, deep red hair and a collection of her own artworks tattooed up her arm certainly make for conversation pieces.
Whilst I waited for an opening in between serving coffees and wiping tables, I sat down with a long black and a granola bowl inside Paddington’s pastel-coloured walls, listening to the 70’s rock soundtrack and talking to the barista about Dennis Rodman (I recently dyed my hair for context).
The exhibition this Saturday is being dubbed as ‘Beany’s’ exhibition, the moniker is a nickname Carroll has had her whole life, dubbed by her parents as a kid. The rabbit -whose name is also Beany- is somewhat a representation of herself, as she describes.
“Every painting I do is a journal entry, the rabbit sort of developed into being an extension of me.
“We planned this exhibition in 2019, and we were trying to come up with a name, the first thing that came to my mind was Beany, before that I didn’t use the name for the rabbit”.
Carroll explained how her paintings are formed from her own experiences of wading through the suburban scrawl. She explained to me the meaning of her painting titled ‘Bin Day’, seen below.
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“I recently moved into a new place in Geelong, and I didn’t know what day bin day was so I painted it on there so I’d remember”.
A very deep meaning I’m sure you’d agree.
“It is cartoonish, and it seems pretty simple, but every little thing has some meaning behind it. It’s something going on in my life, or something that’s inspired me to make the painting”.
Sometimes, that might either be entries in her diary, her love for Miffy (she has the rabbit tattooed on her arm), Sanrio characters or an adoration of Japanese culture. In fact, the latter has proven to be a consistent source of inspiration, with many of her works featuring hiragana characters.
“Going to Japan in 2018, I’d see cartoons everywhere, even on stop signs and stuff, I’d see them, I think Japan has inspired the art mainly” Carroll laughs before saying the next sentence,
“But also, Bladee and Ecco2k, their music and their artwork, I don’t know, just the colours. I was listening to Bladee a lot in Japan, so it goes back to Japan.”
For the uninitiated, Bladee and Ecco2k are both members of ‘Drain Gang’ a collective of Swedish artists that generally produce Hyperpop and Underground-Trap music, both genres of music that are certain to confuse anyone older than 25.
Carroll’s parents are also artists, so naturally, an interest in painting followed suit.
“I’ve been painting all my life…
“But it’s only been recently, the past two, three years, where I’ve been really painting. Then the studio, that started last year, so I’ve been going ham on the painting for less than a year.
“So yeah, I’ve been painting all my life, but not as intensely, I haven’t been as into it as I am now”.
Carroll says that 2020 was somewhat of a formative year for her.
“I was originally going to exhibit late 2019, early 2020.
“And it sucks that the pandemic happened, but I had all these works, and when the pandemic hit my style changed completely.
“I’m glad that it happened in a way because I painted like there was no tomorrow during that first lockdown. It’s kind of let me evolve my style to a point where it’s recognisable as something that I’ve done”.
Carroll has nothing but praise for her fellow artists that are active in the arguably still emerging Geelong art scene.
“I’m glad that I’m in Geelong because I really appreciate how close-knit the art scene is.
“I love how, everyone kind of knows each other, but I don’t see myself as part of a movement or anything, I just like painting but I’m lucky to be in the studio and lucky to be exhibiting.”
It’s this sense of humility that makes Geelong’s art scene so special. The artists here understand the scope and scale of what’s happening and compared to movements up in the big smoke, there’s a sense of homeliness about it all.
“I’m just doing it, just seeing what happens, not really doing it for an end goal or anything”.
As it started spitting down on us, Carroll wrapped up the conversation by yelling some self-promotion into my poor little voice recorder.
“THIS SATURDAY THE 27TH, BE THERE!!!”
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You can check out Ella Carroll’s debut exhibition for free this Saturday, the 27th, at Analogue Academy, 23 Couzens Place. For more info check Carroll’s Instagram here.