Tuesday, October 26, 2010

At Home With Ellen Giggenbach

At Home With Ellen Giggenbach

Issue 38 Oct/Nov 2010
Tucked away in Eastbourne, Wellington is an artist with an eye for colour and a home bursting with heart and personality. 

Words Lucinda Diack    Photography Kate MacPherson

Overflowing with personality, colour, texture, patterns and a never ending collection of things which inspire, the Sutherland-Giggenbach family draw you in. “We are a very happy and full-on house,” shares Ellen with a smile, “it’s a fun place to be when we are all here.”

While at night the living and master bedroom of the home appear as they should, during the day while sons Austin (14) and Louis (10) are at school and husband Paul is at work, the two rooms are turned into Ellen’s ‘studio’.  Creating hand cut and assembled works of art, from coloured paper, Ellen produces one-off pieces for companies around the world. Whether for a range of gift cards, a wall decal, large scale art works or more recently home and giftware, each and every piece is created by hand in the family living room. “I used to buy all the paper I worked with, but I found the colours too limiting, so now I simply paint A4 sheets to the tone I want and go from there. Each work is like a puzzle. Often I have no idea how it is going to turn out, but it is about getting the individual bits to work together.” By cutting out shapes from the coloured paper and layering them together, Ellen produces intricate one off images designed to catch the eye.

“My inspiration for each range of work comes from what I surround myself with. From pretty china to old record covers. I love collecting and my latest thing is old board games.” Whether inspired by mid-century design or European folk art, every piece produced is bound by Ellen’s beautiful capability to play and layer colour. “Each is a montage of shape and colour which I play around. I know it’s finished when I no longer want to move anything around! Then I glue it down.”

“I work standing up so I can look down at the work and get a birds eye view as to whether the work is coming together or not. So paper and cut out shapes are spread from one end of the living room to the other! Then it is all packed away in time for the boys' arrival home from school and then it is their turn to transform the living room into lego land.” Even with the stunning shapes and colours of Ellen’s work packed away her artistic eye is present. Drawers and small tables can be found around the home, which have been upcycled by Ellen with stencilled icons to act as storage units for her collections. “I grew up with craft, my father made furniture and my mother taught us how to sew and was always giving us little projects to do, so it only seems natural to create things with my own mark on them for the house.” And Ellen has certainly made her mark on the house.

While no two rooms are painted in the same colour, the house is perfectly composed and each room complements the one before. “When we first moved in together I think Paul wondered what he had got himself into; all the ‘clutter’ and colour. Yet when we renovated he surprised me by selecting canary yellow for the kitchen bench!”

For this bustling young family, home is certainly where the heart is, and home would be nothing without mum’s natural talent for composition and placement.

You can follow Ellen's work online at www.ellengiggenbach.blogspot.com

ABOVE The master bedroom also plays home to Ellen's desk and sketching workplace. The paper lampshade was made by Ellen for a stall at the local Eastbourne market. From china tea sets to wooden figurines and old record covers Ellen collects and is inspired by things from every realm of life.         

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