Meet the Artist: Eleanor Sykes
Eleanor Sykes is an illustrator and rug maker. She is currently earning a Master’s in Archetype Fairy tale Characters, which plays a big role in her work, and the world of moments she builds through it. Eleanor’s artwork explores playfulness and characters, which she builds through illustration on board, paper and textile.
How would you describe your style?
Playful. Play is a big part of my work and the most important part of my practice. When I was new to this world [as a student], the best advice I got was to go outside and play. So I do that now, enjoying accidental moments of play.
How did you first know that you wanted to create art?
I can’t tell you when, but I do remember sitting at the table every day, and instead of doing anything else, I would just make paper chains and bookmarks for my mother. I still have one in my studio today.
Can you tell us more about your Master’s studies, and how that is influencing your work?
I was gravitating towards and started writing about the archetype of The Big Bad Wolf. I questioned why this was interesting to me and had an ‘ah-ha’ moment. My father is a musician, and would always play the composition Peter and the Wolf when I was growing up. Connecting with your childlike self is a big part of our emotional make-up, that we have to dial down as adults. Fairy tales are a reflection of ourselves. Understanding and being able to explore this idea offers you a connection to yourself.
We can get stuck in technology, but the spoken tale is passed down. I don’t know exactly when I started, but after lockdown, I started bringing these beings into my works which made sense.
Why do you think art is so important today?
So many reasons. As an illustrator, it’s so important because it is a form of connection. It is an undisturbed mechanism that can connect people, things, stories, events and information. It operates in a way that has a reason and a purpose - it has a job.
I don’t always want it to be lovely. If [my work] is a response to something, I want it to do its job as a necessary tool for communication.
What would you want future collectors of your work to know?
That it is up to them how they feel when they see it. I want them to be excited about the possibility of being part of that world that I’m creating.