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Cities Full of Chaotic Order

Additional Reading

I have experienced a break through - I have caught a feeling and translated it, I now understand what it is.

I have spent most of my adult life in a city, London, UK in fact, and travelling to and from cities in one country or another. I couldn’t understand why even though they were havens for chaos I felt at ease in them.

I have spent many years as a graphic designer too, all of these years in fact were in the same cities. Unfortunately being a graphic designer, unbelievably, caused me to miss this feeling, or at least miss-understand what it was. As I believe it, graphics was all about solving other people’s briefs, or theories, over short periods of time; the nature of graphics.

I have often looked out of the window while I was contemplating an idea and something made me feel good, enough to return to the issue with vigour. I believe this was the fact that I was staring out into a city.

Why do I find tranquillity in a chaotic city? A city cannot survive unless it is operating properly, so when I am in London, or Sydney, Singapore City or Paris, and others; I understand that these cities are well established, hence they must have some order.

I was day dreaming in the studio - in my late re-introduction into art, since just before Christmas 2005, after a 5 year break from Graphic Design, I have rented my own studio, and embarked on a fine-art journey, this time solving my own theories - and while taking a break from a very strenuous charcoal and pastel morning, I sat down and looked at all of the bits of charcoal I had accumulating.

My nature provided the first part of my artists journey, fast, furious, and flowing actions. When finished I am “stuffed”. I sat down and noticed all the bits left over from burning away at the charcoal sticks. (I say burning as I have, many times been burnt, forgetting in my passion, that charcoal sticks don’t remain the same length!).

I picked one bit up while thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice to do some smaller artworks, be a change, be cheaper too”, and started rolling and smudging it around a pad of cartridge paper, A2 in size.

It felt nice. I had tons of space, and a very small piece of charcoal. I was day dreaming still and just let the paper take me where ever it wanted. Shapes appeared in the images, and still in a state of tranquillity I continued with mild direction. It was great, people love them, I feel a bit embarrassed as I am having difficulty accepting they are mine, I know I did them, but who was pushing the charcoal?

Anyway, I did another. While doing this it gave me time to think, I used another piece of charcoal and started a drawing with vertical straight lines, then naturally I put in a horizontal line, a bit of shade and another vertical line, and so on.

Good god! I was drawing edges of buildings, they looked familiar, it was a scene of about anywhere in London, any “alley way”, or terrace house rear.
I was at home. I now had a theme, and caught a feeling. While drawing I realised that from all of London’s billions of chaotically placed bricks, drain pipes, windows, curtains, outside toilet cisterns; like in any established city, there was order.
A tranquillity has come from the variety of chaos, which over the years had found its own order.
I have started putting them up on my website now, you can see the first four at the bottom of my “projects” page on my website www.alecellis.com - these are the first, as I mentioned above, but the ones I have yet to put up are more intense, and more tranquil.
It shows how happy I am with my new discovery, I have already had these four mounted and framed for my wall in the studio. I am off up to Sydney next week to take allot of alley way shots, sketch some close views of bricks and drain pipes. The dirtier, uglier, and seedier the better.

I love the way the front of the house is a face, yet the alley ways, in which people are not expected to venture or observe, nor the rears of terrace housing, are given any real attention. Drain pipes, dirty walls, bins, old fencing, little side windows that still retain the fifties or even thirties original curtains, the curtains that came with the house.

A million pieces of chaos come to order... lovely.


Alec Ellis
For eighteen years as a Graphic Designer from London College of Printing, UK, I have never had as much fun, freedom and serious focus as I have now.
I have spent many years creating solutions for clients but now I start on a journey, from scratch, working out my own theory or theories to solve, for the rest of my life.
My personal website is www.alecellis.com and I am a member of www.m16artspace.com Art Gallery and studios in Canberra, Australia. Both websites are gratefully sponsored by M6.net my first choice in web hosts.


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