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Contributor profile: Ella Mudie

Ella Mudie Ella Mudie
photo courtesy of the author

My father's a painter so I grew up with art and the smell of oils still takes me back to my childhood. First and foremost though I've always been a big reader, which led me to enroll in a BA at the University of Sydney where I majored in English and wrote an honours thesis on the maverick boy poet and hoaxer Thomas Chatterton. I also took some postgraduate studies in journalism and among the climate controlled towers of UTS found my niche in print features and arts writing. Some early gigs such as a catalogue essay for a painter friend snowballed into bigger things, eventually leading to features for The Age and other papers to articles and essays in magazines and journals including Meanjin and the Griffith Review. My interests are broad but the visual arts are a longtime passion and common thread running through much of my work. I find myself mostly drawn to writing about photomedia, installation and conceptually driven practices.


My desire to write comes mainly from curiosity, I think. Journalism opened my eyes to the importance of writing within a social context and why giving a voice to real, everyday people matters. When it comes to visual arts writing specifically, I'm most interested in how writing introduces a pause, interrupting the passive consumption of images, objects and ideas and instead feeding a sustained contemplation which, in order to be shaped into a text, requires reflection and interpretation. Art writing can't be rushed, it gestates over time and represents a subversive gesture in this speedy capitalist culture where time is money. I enjoy how good artworks reveal something new each time I revisit them, leaving the process somewhat open-ended.

Freelance writings assignments can be relatively short in length so I like to counterbalance this by immersing myself in bigger topics over longer periods of time. Sometimes they turn into stories, sometimes they don't. I'm currently researching the influence of Surrealism on the development of the psychogeographical novel, from André Breton's Nadja to the elegiac meanderings of WG Sebald. I'm enjoying the indeterminate nature of these stories. In my own work I always strive for clarity yet curiously I often start with a point of confusion—something perplexing which somehow the process of writing works to unravel and resolve.

Recent articles for RealTime

studio vertigo: fiona mcgregor

RT99 night works: bec dean, nightshifters, performance space

RT98 sino-supernova: the big bang, white rabbit gallery, sydney

RT94 deepening degrees of subjectivity: brad miller, james charlton, simon barney, artspace

studio special effects: sam smith

other writings

between art and garbage, meanjin

dream it, build it, the age

the spectacle of seismicity: making art from earthquakes, leonard journal, mit press

the alpha pre-schoolers, sydney morning herald

building conversations: architectural photography as discourse, afterimage journal of media arts and cultural criticism

RealTime issue #103 June-July 2011 pg. web

© Ella Mudie; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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