Ella McCartney is an artist who uses language as a material. She is interested in how meaning can be generated and mediated. Working across sculpture, photography, sound and performance she often seeks out relationships between these processes as a form of visual translation.
ILCVEAEEL (2011-2022) is part of a series that has been ongoing since 2011 and was revisited by Ella after spending extended periods of time with The Women’s Art Collection in 2021/2022. The nine letters depicted in this work ‘ILCVEAEEL’ were objects that had been discarded from an analogue print studio. With the rise and availability of digital printing processes, letterpress printing and its materials have become increasingly obsolete. Ella deployed an analogue photography process to document the printing blocks; the image was then printed, photocopied and reprinted. The final iteration was created using a heated wax print process on one of the last machines to still operate.
The work acts as a form of documentation for these various ways of replicating and communicating information. Language is presented here as something that can almost be touched and held. The wooden blocks have been hand-carved, exposing the grain of the wood which dissolves out into the texture of the melted wax printing process seen in the background. There are no legible words here, no eureka moment in which a linguistic meaning can be revealed. We are left somewhere suspended between reading and seeing.