Posted on the 4th february 2021
By Yohann Goyat
By Yohann Goyat
Erin Newell Bird is a contemporary artist based in the British countryside. For nearly ten years, she has been refining her technique called waterprinting which creates unique brightly coloured abstracted artworks. Its style is remarkable and steeped in history. Each of her paintings hides a lot of meaning and life that she tends to perpetuate through with the use of this unique process. Dive into what pushes this artist to make us travel in time through her immensely colored works, giving new meaning to past experience.
It was an internship at the Tate Gallery in London that led Erin Newell Bird to live her life as an artist in the Anglo-Saxon capital. Upstate New York, her hometown, was only a distant memory, although much of her family still lives there. The memories remain anchored in her memory, but also printed on photos like the archives of slides that she keeps preciously in a corner of her house. A souvenir box that she opens from time to time to find treasures from the past in order to bring new meaning through her art. An inspiring, unique and meaningful creative process.
A photo as a starting point
With a master's degree from the famous Royal College of Art in London, Erin refined and experimented with her work around photography. She finds there a fascination for what she releases and tells at the same time, which pushes her to be very selective as to the choice of the photos from which she is inspired for her works. “I must feel a strong connection through the photo. It can be a more or less personal, but in all cases I intuitively feel it can have a powerful meaning ”she explains. To do this, she often digs into her family archives in which are hidden treasures: 35mm slides super 8-mm film and digital photos.
Erin is particularly interested in the bonds that connect people to each other and how person is shaped and changed by their experience. “I am fascinated by the idea that people transform internally, breaking mental strongholds and habitual mindsets. I'm also very interested in generations and how relationships change over time, ”she adds. Erin devotes a fascination for the transformation and the evolution of things, giving them another meaning, and for that the photographic selection must be significant in every way. The time spent is reflected in her canvases by the use of water to alter and transform the image, as if she took with her the printed memories to make them last in time.
The power of water
“We are all made of water. We are made up of composite experiences shaped by family, nationhood, spirituality, etc. »she explains. Water is the highlight of her art. It is thanks to her, and she alone, that she will succeed in creating her immense spaces of colors, fragments and lightness so characteristic of her paintings. The transparency of the colors brings back once again to the water, and the delicacy of the so slender lines recalling the passing of time. The alterations of the image after immersion in water create a unique result: “the process creates ethereal, otherworldly and unexpected results that I cannot control,”
she explains. Erin draws from experience and lays herself vulnerable, yet masked by the fluidity of pattern, line and colour. She leaves room for the unknown and carries the story specific to the photo to give a new meaning, a new imagination specific to each and every one of us. “It's really what fascinates me, the surprise effect of the result which gives another meaning to the original photo."
The power of abstract
Her large canvases all have a hypnotizing power. The colors are bright, the very fine and clean lines sometimes alluding to stained glass windows crossed by a beam of light. In the observation of her paintings, an almost religious and spiritual feeling is felt which has the gift of plunging us into our past, pushing us to introspection. The manipulation of the water in the photo is done by hand and brush. A very simple process giving rise to a stunning and singular result, with a finesse similar to glass. The abstract art used by Erin is purposeful and meaningful: "The more abstract it becomes, the longer I have left the artwork submerged" she says. Beyond the unexpected and surprising result that she tends to give to photography, the artist also wants to give people a space to watch and read their own life in her work.
“In sharing my art, it creates a community of people linked by the gaze, ” she explains. Lately, it is with the color blue that she expressed through her paintings her emotions, an inspiration that she found with the artist Kanye West in whom she found similarities in the said "internal transformation". Erin makes work from a personal and introspective position but always engages directly with her audience, inviting them to make their own associations and realisations. Lately it is the color yellow that she is experimenting with: “It’s not a color I would be intrinsically drawn to, but I’m always driven to experiment and I find the shade yellow has a feeling of hope attached to it” she ponders.
Erin Newell Bird’s increased experimentation over time became her creative process and eventually came to be known as waterprints. This artistic technique is her process of painting “her visual language” she says. Behind her art hides a whole philosophy of life and the conception of life imagined by water. “Water brings us back to where we came from. Water is regenerating and invigorating, ”she rightly asserts. Erin transports us through time in her own way through the vibrations of water and the dissolution of colors, in that we all share in the act of becoming.
Website : erinnewellbird.art