Ellen Frances is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. Her practice merges painting, writing, and performance inspired by extensive historical research and classical sensuality. She is a self-taught painter, designer and filmmaker.
I think it was her interest in Hellenistic mysticism that really hooked me, her ability to produce deep and rigorous work in many mediums fascinated me. I invited her for 10 days, offering accommodation, to be fed and watered, giving her time and space to dream and create - her work did not disappoint.
The week of her residency stretched over Heritage Week and I asked her to perform to Members of Killruddery. This performance took place on the wettest, windiest of days, so wet that drips of water fell from the high dome of our Orangery onto a marble Celtic cross on which she danced to the music by local harpist, Aisling Ennis. A happy connection was made, I was impressed by the disciplined and supportive collaboration of these two artists. Ellen’s majestic tale of the story of the Children of Lir, and her dance rendition of W.B Yeats’ Sailing to Byzantium took our breath away.
In the words of audience member, Emelia Jones “We so often see poetry in words, across a page, ideas embellished with punctuation, an ellipsis, or exclamation mark. So how refreshing it was to watch poetry as dance! Multidisciplinary artist Ellen Frances interpreted Yeats’ Sailing to Byzantium, using her body to dance the story. Lines became a mysterious play, with dramatic sequence and pause. The theatrical storytelling in combination with her graceful physicality was transfixing."
Below images by Emile Dinneen – who in a funny twist is great grandson to Yeats’ famous muse, Maud Gonne.