When and why did you start drawing and creating art?
Since I was a little girl, I dreamt of being an artist. This plan was very different from the future my family saw for me! I became a maths student at a highly academic university in Moscow, then started a family, children...the dream seemed unachievable! In my 40s the pull towards the creative became stronger and I started a gallery, showcasing antique art - largely paintings and etchings. It was when I held my first 18th century etching in my hands that I realised that this was a special artform for me. I was amazed at how expressive an etching can be, despite the lack of colour. The precision and perfection of the form is the star of the show here, there is nowhere to hide, no distraction.
In my mid 50s I finally decided to explore my creativity to see if there was anything there. I took art lessons for a year from a teacher, initially specialising in watercolours. My first black and white drawing was created in 2017 and started a whole chapter in my creative story...
What is so special about plants and vegetables for you?
When my daughter started a pop up restaurant specialising in seasonal vegetarian cooking, I decided to try a new model - a stunning savoy cabbage, which was then just in season. I was immediately hooked by the structure and form and began working in black ink on cartridge paper to capture this. When I saw the result, the elation I felt holding the antique etching came back to me.
I started to see vegetables on supermarket shelves and market stalls differently. They started to call to me to put them on the page! Now trips to the market, a forest or the countryside became like foraging for beauty!
Similarly exciting was hunting down information online about these plants. They started to take on characters, their own back story. I found out how plants are used spiritually, help us to gather health, energy and balance. It was like a whole new world for me - one I am still happily exploring!
Why did you create a brand from your artworks?
We live in a difficult time. There is a lot of division, anger, darkness. My works are not ultra serious, nor are they going to change the world! But I do believe they can bring a certain level of positivity - it’s the way I know how to bring a little bit of light relief.
My daughter and I felt that integrating my works into objects for the home would be the easiest, most accessible way to bring some of this positivity into people’s lives. And for me, that’s a little part of my soul there sitting on your kitchen counter! That makes me happy.
What inspires you?
What doesn’t inspire me?! I believe that I continue to be creative as long as I am curious and willing to be surprised - by the perfect beauty of a commonplace vegetable, for example. While my background was not really artistic, I believe that my whole life’s education and experience has been leading up to this moment. I find myself utilising ideas that I read in books, drawing upon the melody of a song or even finding inspiration in the precision of a maths equation. Everything has a spark of creativity in it. And of course I get so much from the people in my life - especially my children - who continue to inspire and challenge me!
Find Elena's first work, the Savoy Cabbage, in our store.