2023 Grad Show

Elise Findlay

AUArts Grad Show CC_art-18



My work is primarily focused on place, the large views and the small details that evoke connection. As a visual artist born, raised, and based in Banff, AB, I project an internal understanding and knowledge of place to capture the essence of my surroundings. Rooted in a deep connection to the land, my work explores the intricate relationship between identity and place. Inspired by the people, flora, and fauna of my home, my art reflects a profound connection and accountability to the ecosystems we are all a part of. Through a diverse range of mediums, and process driven practices, I go beyond conventional depictions of place, delving into my own identity and experiences. Emphasizing authenticity over idealization, I invite viewers to reflect on their own relationship with the environment, fostering understanding and promoting the preservation of our natural world. Within the solidity of place, a sense of community, connection, and belonging endures.

Another Life

This body of work began with an examination and a sculptural expression of my past experiences, and by extension, the challenges faced by women working in the construction trades. Through material and process I explored memories of my previous life, resulting in a series of fibre sculptures, which, while referencing woodworking tools, have become strange canvas shells. Each sculpture is a duplication that is and is not. The installation represents a place that no longer exits for me, yet it also is a starting point. Something here goes beyond the original idea and the process. It is a beginning, a way to explore transformation, and how, while I used to be a cabinetmaker, like the sculptures themselves, I am now something new.

In Between

There is a moment, where you know a place so well, where a lifetime of memories are layered in a single path or sound, where the self disappears. It feels like the difference between being and belonging, between a place being a part of your history, and you being a part of its. My practice explores the experience of place, and how our understanding of self can be expressed in the attachment we have to particular landscapes. This series of mixed media artworks explores how we experience place, the connections and the tensions, the accountability and the limits. In Between examines my presence in my home of Banff and the strange existence and dissolution of boundaries that exist here.

Iterations Of Self

Created during the AUArts SA Hear/d Residency in the 2020/2021 year, "Iterations of self" expresses the fluctuations in my mental health over time, exploring its influences and effects. Throughout the month of march, and the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, while still very much in isolation, I recorded my mental well being. I transformed this record into parametrically programmed variables that animate a digital drawing, recording the impact of these changes on the landscape.

Linework Landscapes - Drawing

I find in place, community, connection, and belonging that is both fixed in its solidity and flexible in its cycles of change. This collection of linework landscape drawings employ a mixed media approach to create depth and material expression of place. Each represent as connection and an understanding of the landscapes I am beyond fortunate to call home.

Linework Landscapes - Large Paintings

A selection of larger mixed media paintings, this series is part of my core landscape practice exploring the large views and small details that evoke connection to place. I rely on memory, emotion, and knowledge to depict places that are both specific in their representation of an actual location, and general, in that, the landscapes are built from imagined and remembered routes of travel. Each piece is an abstraction of place, some incorporating distortion of objects and memory, and all expressing deep connection to place.

Linework Landscapes - Medium Scale Works

The idea of making place real through experience is essential in my work. This collection of medium scale paintings expresses this connection by depicting a connection and shared attachment to place rather than an idealized version of space. Layering linework, shading, and colour, my work projects an internal understanding of an external location. I try always in my practice to depict a connection and a shared attachment to place rather than an idealized version of a space.

Linework Landscapes - Small Paintings

Through layering linework and shading I depict an understanding and a knowledge of place. This idea of making a place real through experience is essential to my work. I employ different mediums and different scales ranging from smaller watercolour and ink drawings to large acrylic and oil pieces on cradled birch panels. This collection is part of my core landscape practice and comprises small scale acrylic on cradled birch panel paintings.

This Place - Mixed Media

The mixed media part of the series “This Place”, is a playful use of found objects and a collection of the absurd. It looks at the everyday and uses common imagery and tropes about this place to shift perspectives. Including a coat made of trash and a series of fake souvenirs, these works poke fun, both at representations of Banff, as well as behaviours here, both visitor and local alike. It questions the tourism industry and the ways we consume nature. In this series, I hope to challenge perceptions of my home and my community, to show the everyday in order to question the culture and the perception that values the image of this place over its well being.

This Place - Paintings

I live in a postcard. And, like a postcard there are things unseen, behind the picture on the front, there is a story of a community, a life, and the challenges that exist beyond the imagery. This series looks at Banff, my home, the beauty, the absurd, and the everyday experiences here that are so often overlooked. Banff is a place that is depicted in more ways, more times, and by more people than can be counted. Mostly presented as a picturesque town in an untouched wilderness in paint, word, and photo, these images show this town, but perhaps not my community. In This Place, I hope to challenge perceptions, to show the everyday in order to question the culture and the depictions that value the image of this place over its well being.

Under the Mountain's Shadow

The research project and artwork, Under the Mountain’s Shadow, created through the AUArts Self-Directed Research Scholarship, in the spring of 2021, explores, and attempts to bring awareness to, the challenges that face residents of, and visitors to, resort towns. Issues that are rarely discussed and even more rarely publicly acknowledged. The beauty of the place and the ‘Peter Pan’ attitude towards life in a resort town has a shadow—a darker side that results in increased rates of sexualized violence, domestic and intimate partner violence, as well as challenges with addictions and mental health.

This site may contain artworks with provocative content that some viewers may find uncomfortable or upsetting. AUArts supports a culture of non-censorship and ongoing conversations about contemporary art.