Ellen Rogers is a Norfolk born analogue film maker and photographer, whose imagery is notable for its dark, dream-like overtones, reminiscent of Kenneth Anger’s films and Arthur Ranson’s illustrations.
Volt Café: The process of hand toning your images has had much attention, what is your relationship from looking at an image and deciding how to add your own addition of colour, which would not naturally be present? Do you feel your work drives you to create its own form of utopia from this?
Ellen Rogers: I’m definitely not after utopia. Is there such a thing? When humans are involved? Can there be such a state, be it artistically, politically or mentally? My work is driven by me and of course there is something that is driving me, perhaps it’s the same drive that lies behind every mother’s love, only mine and other ambitious non-mothers have misplaced it. Instead of ladling love (on our children), we plough mindlessly and powerfully through career paths.
As for colour, I have come to terms with the fact that it’s now an automatic process, it has little logic and it is more a signifier for my mood.
VC: What are your other past times and talents beside photography?
ER: I think I may have been interested in dancing, perhaps ballet if I’d stuck to it earlier, if a parent had been a dance teacher and not a photographer I may have done that.
VC: What did you want to be when you were a child?
ER: An artist, I always wanted to be an artist.
VC: I know you have a keen interest in cinema, who was your favourite movie heroine when you were growing up?
ER: That’s a tough one, the only persons who stood out to me as role models when I was young were not necessarily of the cinema but of the art world. I had a documentary about the YBAs on a VHS tape that I used to watch over and over. I mean I must have been around 8 years old maybe and I thought they were pretty amazing. I think I wanted to be just like Sarah Lucas. Alas I grew up in a different direction but I think the attitude stuck.
VC: Also do think this interest made any impact in your photographic work?
ER: Umm not directly as an influence no I guess not. But it made an impact on the type of career I wanted. I liked the idea of her being gutsy and more standout than her male peers.
VC: Our interpretation of giving something meaning relies on what we have already seen, an overlapping of partial understanding or partial recognition of one’s own experience. Every individual viewer will perceive something completely different from each of your images, do you feel there is an overall feeling or fragment of recognition you have wanted your work to create?
ER: We do of course all view things differently, everyone has a personal schema or set of basic values they consult when viewing new material. I couldn’t influence that and I wouldn’t want to. I would be lying if I said I make art work for myself and that I don’t care what other people thought about it but it does come from me ultimately and It does come from my understanding of the world so I do have the final say if it’s about something specific. Mostly I leave these up for interpretation – however I have been working more and more on pieces with direct meaning, such as the Leaf Room or 1888.
VC: Knowing your love of comics and knowing you worked in Orbital Comics as a teenager until a couple of years ago, I’d like to know what is your favorite comic/comic character and why?
ER: Actually I don’t have a favourite comic or comic character; I don’t have many favourites of anything especially things I love. However when it comes to comics I do have preferred artists and writers.
When I was very young I was flicking though one of my dad’s old photography magazines from the late 70’s and early 80’s and they had those great little adverts in the back selling darkroom bits and bobs. One day I noticed they had a kind of publisher ‘cross over’ where they’d sell artist’s prints and obviously there was some confusion, because amongst all the photographer’s prints there was an artist called M.W. Kaluta and a pack of his ‘plates’, which as a child I was fascinated by. I begged my dad to let me have them. He’d been the first comic artist I became fixated with, Kaluta drew some of the most stunning DC comics I had ever seen and lead me to become a lifelong fan. Since then I have collected horror related DC comics for many years. So I guess Kaluta is a favourite of sorts.
Words by Mills Williams
TagsArthur Ranson, Ellen Rogers, Kenneth Anger, M.W. Kaluta, Mills Williams, Sarah Lucas,