Feeling Colours

Ellen McKenna is a multifaceted creative spanning design across textiles, surface, homewares and painting. She is represented by the legends at Bluethumb Art Gallery who champion independent artists.

Ellen recently held a solo exhibition “Feeling Colours.” As part of the exhibition Ellen created an interactive “Community Pattern” which is now available for printing through of our Artwork Library. The design comprises of a community collaboration of art loving visitors creating a canvas that became a textile design.

Ellen’s sense of community runs deep with her commission made from sales of the print being donated to Reach out Mental Health. We are proud to support Ellen in her vision and donate all our profits from the sale of the Community Pattern also.

We have long worked with Ellen and see her accomplish great things as a designer and artist, it was lovely to sit and do a recap of her exhibition as we proudly launch the Community Pattern

Community Pattern
Community Pattern
Ellen wearing her own design
Textiles from Feeling Colours
Feeling Colours Exhibition
Bluethumb Gallery

You recently held a solo exhibition “Feeling Colours” what was your vision for the show?

Using Johannes Ittens, statement, “Colour is life for a world without colours appears to us dead” as a starting point, my vision for the ‘Feeling Colours’ exhibition was always to explore the connection between colour and human emotion using my textiles, art and some upcycled furniture. I hoped that the exhibition could inspire visitors to create and explore colour havens within their own communities, businesses, and homes. Visually, I wanted to create a little world of colourful rooms with each room of the gallery space designed around a central colour scheme.  I decided to explore traditional colour theory concepts (triadic, analogous and Monochromatic schemes) to inform my canvas artworks which I then turned into repeat patterns for my textile  designs. Each of these intended to spark different, but pleasant, emotional responses in the visitor.

Creating a solo exhibition is a huge undertaking. Are there any highlights that spring to mind?

I mean there is nothing better than an opening night of an exhibition you have just spent 6 months hard work on! That moment when you do the finishing touches and the whole exhibition falls into place and it turns out just as you had imagined in your mind…. It’s brilliant. The sense of achievement is intoxicating. I truly love the whole process of putting together an exhibition. Concept building, proposal writing – learning how to describe what you intend to do, time management, planning, creation / making, installation – it’s all part of a wonderful process.

As part of the exhibition you created an interactive design experience for visitors to contribute design elements to, with the idea of turning it into a textile, how did this idea come to pass?

It was truly a group effort to be honest. Freddy Grant, Head of PR at Bluethumb Art Gallery, whom I worked closely with during the installation and running of the exhibition, thought it would be great to have something interactive in the exhibition. I went home and brain stormed with my family and between us we came up with the idea of somehow visitors contributing to an art work, and I just developed it from there into painted shapes on a canvas which I knew I could turn into a repeat fabric pattern using my digital pattern method.

What does community mean to you?

That is a very good question! I think in a very high-level way – I see all of humanity as a community. Most of us have the same needs – love, feeling safe and companionship (of some form). Drilling down though, community to me means a place of belonging and a feeling of warmth and acceptance, regardless of differences.

All profits from the design and print production of Community Print are being donated to Reach Out Mental Health Services. What impact do you think design has on mental health?  

I think it all comes down to how a room, colour, pattern, artwork or piece of furniture makes you FEEL. Does it make you feel good?

Each object and piece in the ‘Feeling Colours’ exhibition was deliberately coloured to evoke an emotion and ‘feeling’ in the onlooker. The exhibitions aim was to get people feeling and experiencing colour through their whole bodies, unlike other projects that are designed to make the visitor think and contemplate, ‘Feeling Colours’ was created to ‘feel’ – Joy, happiness, surprise, safe, calm, excitement – human emotions.

My vision for Feeling Colours exhibition had always been to examine how, as designers and artists, we can consciously design colour filled spaces for our homes and our communities. I wanted to examine how manipulating colour and space could promote healthier mental wellbeing in our communities. With more people than ever working from home and spending time at home during Covid and moving forward, I felt we could make those spaces, inviting and rejuvenating by understanding and promoting colour psychology.

Discover more about Ellen here