The Billo became whatever they wanted it to be.
The children made it what it became.

Sometimes life throws weird and devastating little curve balls at us and it's up to us how we deal with them.

For me, one of those curve balls was thrown my way in 2010 when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Although it meant many months of treatment, it allowed me to revaluate my life and do something that I really loved but never thought I could do. A recovery trip to Barcelona sparked my interest in Art and I started a full time Fine Art & Sculpture Degree here in Belfast, to which I was afforded a First Class Honours Degree and an award for Belfast Print Workshop as resident artist for a year.

Jaymie Elliott BA (Hons) Fine Art

During four years of study I have used and experienced so many variations of materials. Paper, yarn, wood, metal, concrete, resin and textiles. I love to recycle materials and objects into something new. Something usable and meaningful.

The journey I have been on over the past five years have given me many experiences. They have given me different ways of seeing the world and the people around me. Sight, touch, hearing all became incredibly hightened. Studying Fine Art gave me the skills on how to observe the world differently, to be able to look at materials, materials we often see every day, in a creative way. Materials were given new meaning and life. I became sensitive to the smallest and simplest things and details.

 

Four years of study I have used and experienced so many variations of materials. Paper, yarn, wood, metal, concrete, resin and textiles. I love to recycle materials and objects into something new. Something usable and meaningful.

Playing with everyday objects is where I believe my best work is and I feel that’s where I discover new ideas. Play was important to me as I could always involve my three boys with the work. Through their play new ideas would evolve. Elements of them are always present within the work in some way or another and importantly emotions played a big part in everything I created, including Billo

 

In my final year the feelings of a choatic lifestyle had me feeling and craving nature, freshness, simplicity, cocoons, softness and protection. Having time is such a huge factor for me. Time feels quick and there’s never enough. All of this was a contradiction to the material that I was looking at and using. Strangely, industrial, hard and rustic was what I liked to look at.

Not having much money and every penny going on family needs made me use what was readily available to me. Disregarded domestic objects were my source. I started to play with a tin can. Something about a tin can and its perceived uselessness inspired me and I wanted more. I collected them over five months from friends, family and restaurants all over Belfast. Finally collecting over one thousand I began to play with them.

I painted them, bent them, squashed them and stacked them. I became obsessed. They became very valuable to me and as time went on I became very selective about which ones I kept. I removed every lid and cleaned every one, resulting in nineteen tin openers being binned! I started to like the colours and repetition, this type of work would send me into a trance like state which was a type of therapy for me. I would stil create work but without really having to think about it. It allowed me space, and the work happened naturally. I turned the form of the hard insustrial can (what I liked), into a soft scultpural form (my emotions) using duvets (imagine white clouds and simplicity) along with colour fabrics that mirrored the ones painted on the cans.

The contrast of the hard and soft was an analogy of our environment today. The cans began to represent our environment. The more I could easily collect, flatten and squash, the feeling of weight and compression started to show. Things that are too accessible, society makes us feel we have to do and have it all. This made me think about daily life, technology quickens things up, but also overloads us without us even realising; our bodies and minds become overloaded and weighed down.

The soft white duvets and coloured fabrics represented having time, the same name as my final year piece.

Through this work I realised the true fragility of the world and life. The soft sculptural form, Billo, named by my youngest son Sebastian, made you feel cocooned, giving the feeling of calm and having time out, time to reflect. It was for my children. A place where they could feel cosy, safe and protected away from the hard elements of our environment as place to have fun and adventures, a special place.