Ellen Macke Alström
Ellen is an artist inspired by her mother and the fairytales she told. Now and then Ellen goes to be political in her painting; she touches power structures, class, feminism and social behaviours. One of Ellens art works is located right next to the Cathedral of Gothenburg, an street art mural depicting two monsters having coffee at a table. She made another one with a Robin Hood theme, inside a bank.
Where are you from and where do you live? Do you think it had any impact on your aesthetic?
I’m from a small town called Falköping in Sweden, but I’ve been living in Gothenburg for eight years now. I don’t think my surroundings has been that much of an impact, the biggest influence on my art is my mother, she’s been drawing and reading stories about monsters to me since I was a kid.
My hobbies besides drawing vary a lot. Right now my hobby is swim in the ocean, daydream and watch a game or two of The World Cup in football.
Tell us what your paintings and sculptures depicts!
It’s mostly humanlike creatures, animals and monsters portraying emotions, situations and phenomenas that are very much inspired by reality (as it always is I guess). One of my favorite characters right now is the headless kitten, my friend Freja told me to do them once and I love to draw them. I feel like a headless kitten sometimes when I try to find my brain while running around in a situation.
Sometimes you add text to your works. What comes first, the text or the image?
It can be both, sometimes words comes out of an drawing, but mostly when I use text it’s from a notebook where I write a lot of nonsense, or something I heard from a movie or on the tram. Currently I am very inspired by Twirlywoos and Dirty Dancing.
Does your work comment on current social or political issues? In what way?
I try now and then to be political, since I’m interested in power structures, feminism, class and how people feel and behave under those radars.
But mostly when I try to hard to do something clever and important it ends up ugly and boring and that makes me grumpy. I enjoy what I do the most when I just let my brain run on freely and do whatever I feel like at the moment. Sometimes it ends up political anyway, I guess it’s the subconscious working its magic.
But I did paint a wall inside a bank recently and then I felt the need to do a piece with a Robin Hood-theme, even though it was very subtle.
What do you think is necessary in order to create a successful painting or sculpture? Do you feel that anything you doodle becomes art? When do you know you’ve completed a painting or sculpture?
I don’t really know what is considered to be a successful piece, but I’m an advocate for having fun when you do art, I think my best things are the ones I most enjoyed making. Do I sound too much like a happy camper now? I do a lot of art when I’m angry too, I might enjoy it even more then.
On the second question I answer yes and on the last question my answer is that I have no idea, probably when I want to do something else.
You’ve done street painting as well? How does it differ in experience to work with large scale painting from what you usually work with?
Well, I might have planned ahead what I want to paint considering the place and context and I like how it gets more physical when you do stuff that big. I think it’s one of the best ways of doing collaborations with friends!
Do you make a living off your art?
Handmaid’s tale or Stranger things?
Stranger Things. It has cuter monsters.
Dream venue for an exhibition?
I kind of hate to have exhibitions actually, at least to have them on my own. I guess my dream would be any venue where I just hand in my work and then disappear into blue little smoke.
Images courtesy of ELLEN MACKE ALSTRÖM
interview REBECCA LOVGRENS
More to read