Ellie Niblock on 3D Modelling and Virtual World Building

Pigmented silicone, flocking fibres, and trial & error,

What materials, tools and technologies are in your studio currently?

I am working on some new pieces and have pink and green flocking fibres everywhere!

I also have some special effects silicone rubber..which is my current favourite at the moment. I started working with this material recently for an upcoming group show with bomb factory 'hot in here'. opening 11th July!

It is a transparent silicone that I can pigment very easily and add as much or as little as I want to maintain a translucent rubbery surface on my sculptures.

As for tools, I always have my trusty electric silicone gun handy (which I am obsessed with), a regular drill, and a manual silicone gun that I can grab and take with me for installs, such as the current show on in stratford with Hypha Studios and Thin Red Lion. I have 6 silicone figures hanging in an old Sainsbury's building.

Where are you sourcing the materials for your sculptures?

Always from mb fibreglass. A company in Northern Ireland!

I am also constantly on the lookout for new materials and resources. Travelling is usually a great way for me to gather new materials.

Can you tell us a bit about your artistic process?

Sure! The process honestly varies quite a lot depending on the artwork. Mostly, I usually start with a visual idea through trial and error in the studio with my materials. It definitely takes time to play and experiment. Once I have a strong form, shape or material combination that I am excited about, the idea/concept tends to form naturally while I am developing the piece. It's commonly related to events happening or have happened in my life, or what is happening around me.

The series I am working on now, 5 Reasons to Float, is based on synchronicities that I started experiencing quite strongly around 1 year ago.This was when I realised that this was happening to me quite frequently all throughout my life. In Ireland a lot of people believe in guardian angels who look out for you and find ways to communicate. It was one year ago when I learned about this personal communication and my new works explore this idea.

I realised what I was working on when I started pouring my material in the shape of a wing, at the start this was totally accidental. I can't explain the euphoric feeling when I realised what I had been doing! The subconscious mind is so powerful. It tends to happen this way a lot. The key to this process is time.

How are you 'investigating the relationship between the physical and the digital worlds and how they co-exist'?

I work a lot with physical and digital sculpture, and often sound. It's really fun to dive into different mediums. Working with 3D modelling, virtual world building and experimenting with sound on my vocoder enables me to explore concepts that bit further. In 2022 I created a large installation 'visualeyes' at Yorkshire Sculpture Park which investigated this topic. I lived on site temporarily, and experimented with new materials and 3D scanning tools to capture 3D models of the park's environment. I reconstructed the YSP environment giving it an alternative experience in hyperspace.