MUNTHE ART MONDAY: ELLA MASON
Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.
Hiya! I’m Ella, an artist based in London, primarily focusing on empowerment. My work is inspired by the experience of life, the stigma around women’s bodies and the harsh standards we are held to. My recent works are abstract pieces, reflecting on the different chapters we go through and the concept of these chapters creating one big, beautiful and messy life. As well as paint, I also use charcoal, and often incorporate the female form into my works.
Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?
Prior to becoming an artist, I worked in some really toxic and misogynistic office environments. These experiences shaped me as a woman and through this I found empowerment, feminism and my practice. My practice started out with an ethos to take back our bodies and challenge the harsh standards women are held to, and whilst my practice evolves, that always remains in the forefront of my mind.
As a female artist,
statistically speaking, for every £1 a man makes from selling his art, I would make £0.10. Forbes recently wrote an article on this pay gap, stating that “Of the $196.6 billion spent at art auctions between 2008 and 2019, work produced by women accounted for only $4 billion, or around 2% of the total sales.” This is something I have no intention of allowing within my practice - my skills, passions and work should be given the same value as men, I’m still working on it with determination to be paid like a man.
Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?
I have a huge admiration for Tracey Emin, her work seems to speak to me in a personal way - she somehow makes me feel like I know her. The way her journey and vulnerability create such power in her art is inspiring. Ana Mendieta is also an artist whose work and life story contains so much meaning within the feminist art movement. Her work was jarring, and a favourite of mine is ‘Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) (7 works)', 1972’. Carolee Schneemann, Frida Kahlo and Elena Gual are also amongst my favourite artists.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a female artist?
Navigating my way through understanding feminism has been such a huge learning curve, at the beginning of my research it was easy to allow these frightening statistics and information to bog me down, I’ve learnt that it’s healthier, and stronger, to empower and look at the positive.
I’ve learnt so much about my own behaviours, whether that’s how I talk about my own body or the way we’re subconsciously wired to be up against each other - breaking down those barriers, uniting with women by supporting and empowering. A social media account of mine was permanently deleted with all appeals failing, due to my artwork containing the female form, which just goes to show how much further we have to go with the desexualisation of the female body.
What would you like people to notice in your artwork?
I want people to notice something about themselves, for it to create reflections for the viewer. And of course, I want others to feel empowered. I aim to create a safe space, where women can feel comfortable within their skin, freely express themselves, and explore new levels of self-acceptance. Think about the chapters you’ve experienced within your life thus far - how many are there? What did they teach you? Some may have been rough, some may have sparked joy, and there are many more to come.