Toys are more serious than they appear, writes Natasha Mckim.
Elaine Grant is inspired by her children. She has always been creative, but their drawings have made Elaine think outside of her usual creative world.
“All I wanted to do through school was art. It is in my blood,” said Elaine.
With an arty mother and sister, Elaine, 40, was brought up in the right environment. Both she and her sister, who are from Inverness, studied at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen.
Elaine moved to Aberdeen straight from school and worked as a bridal designer.
She made commissioned scarves and bags in a very “grown-up job, compared to fun and quirky now”. Following her creative streak, she went to study textiles at Gray’s School of Art, but soon found that she wasn’t quite ready for the big leap to university.
“I took some time out and then went to study. I travelled to Holland and worked in a flower market, making bouquets. I needed the time,” she said.
The work in the flower markets provided Elaine with another creative outlet, but she returned to Gray’s, a little bit older and wiser. Now, her work is making textile creatures, inspired by her son, using repurposed fabrics. When her son was little, he drew his sister a picture of an alien ballerina. Elaine then helped him to make the toy for her daughter’s birthday. Now aged seven and six, her children inspire her work and Elaine is ready to go full-time.
Elaine was given the opportunity to have her own studio space, thanks to a Creative Learning project, Inspiration Point. The project celebrates the range of creative opportunities in the north-east and it allowed Elaine to work and create in a larger space than she was used to. Between December 2016 and January 2017, she has been able to create and experiment, pushing boundaries and upscale the items she creates.
“The project was to create opportunities for emerging local artists,” she said.
“My time is coming to an end now, but it has given me the confidence to go and experiment and try new things. It is a step in the right direction. I want to be more involved in interactive arts projects.”
Elaine is helping to create a textile installation for The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen which will showcase textiles and get young school children involved. It is an installation which people will be able to add to and will hopefully inspire some of the visitors to follow their dreams.
Exploring a gap in the market, Elaine is hoping to work more with children and drawing, while also hopefully taking on some commissions. Thanks to the experience in the large studio, she is now working to a bigger scale than before, and is thinking about interior items and cushions similar to her textile creatures.
“My life has inspired me, by surrounding myself with family and friends,” she said.
Her little textile creatures are each given a personality, names and story tags, inspired by how they are created and how they look. Then they are sold online, but Elaine aims to be involved in more fairs and to sell more items locally in the future.
“To anyone thinking of something similar, I would say go for it. Do your best and follow your dreams,” she said.