Erica Eyres explores in her artworks the vulnerability of nudity and uncomfortable familiarity. Drawing from inspirations spanning old magazines and grocery store objects, the Glasgow-based Canadian artist then creates open-ended pieces that invite the spectator to create their own narrative. Read today’s interview to learn about Erica’s creative approach and her recent turn to ceramics.

How would you describe your process of creating your artworks? I see you have a wide range of techniques ranging from painting and drawing to recent work with ceramics.

I usually start with a found image or object. The drawings are based on images taken from old magazines I buy online. When choosing the images, I look for a particular characteristic that is difficult to describe, but something I am immediately attracted to. For example, I prefer images in which the model looks directly at the camera. I also tend to exclude images that are overly explicit because I am more interested in the awkwardness of the pose or a particular mood. 

I crop the images and edit background information out as I paint or draw them. I do my best to translate the figure (especially the face) as accurately as I can. At some point, though, the painting departs from the image to become something else. The paintings can take a long time, including preparation and the accumulation of layers. 

In terms of the ceramics, I spend a lot of time in grocery stores, walking up and down aisles looking for items that would translate well. I prefer to work from a model as much as possible. The ceramics begin much like a drawing, I start with a rough shape, either building it by hand or throwing it on the wheel. Then I let it harden over a day or two before adding more and more detail until I feel satisfied. Much of the work takes place during the glazing process; trying to find the best way to translate the colour and surface of the object.

What is the main storyline you want to express with your artworks and how can we relate to the characters you portray?

I don’t necessarily have a storyline in mind but look for images that have narrative potential. I want the characters to feel very human. In one sense, they are vulnerable in their nudity and the way they pose. At the same time, they confront the viewer by looking directly at them. Although I have my own thoughts about each work, I want the audience to develop their own narratives. Sometimes people say the women look like people they know, and this can add to a sense of discomfort. I want the reaction to be complicated, a mixture of attraction and repulsion, humour and tenderness.

Are the (mostly) female characters based on some real characters you met or you know personally? 

They are based on real people from magazines, but I have never met them. Although I feel I come to know them through the process of painting and drawing, I also enjoy the mystery of not knowing and having to imagine the scenario surrounding the photograph. I tend to use the name that accompanies the model, but I sometimes change it. The same model may appear more than once in other issues of the magazines under different names. So, these may also be pseudonyms.

How would you describe your drawing style, who or what is your biggest inspiration?

I try to draw with as much realism as I can, but also want to change the image. Translating the image into black and white makes it more dramatic and emotionally weighted. I don’t know if I have any artists who inspired my style of drawing but was very influenced by the photographs of Diane Arbus.

Are you currently preparing any exhibitions or projects we can look forward to?

I am currently preparing for a solo show, featuring ceramics, at Norberg Hall Gallery in Calgary, Canada which will open on July 15.

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Erica Eyres received her BFA from the University of Manitoba in 2002, and her MFA from Glasgow School of Art in 2004. Eyres completed her PhD at Northumbria University in 2018.  She has been exhibiting internationally since 2004. Recent solo exhibitions include Another Dirty Room at Celine, Glasgow (2022); Too Shy to Party at Plaza Plaza, London (2021); and A Bit More Exciting at OTP Copenhagen (2020). Recent group exhibitions include Secret Signals at OTP Copenhagen (2022); Private Behaviour at White Columns, New York (2020); Real-Time at Seventeen Gallery, London (2020); and Mark-Making: Perspectives on Drawing at Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow. Upcoming shows include Family Meal at Norberg Hall, Calgary in July 2022.


Artist / Erica Eyres @erica_eyres

Interview / Markéta Kosinová

Photography / Patrick Jameson

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