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Members Highlight: Eilidh Appletree


Eilidh Appletree graduated from Glasgow School of Art with a first-class honours degree in Sculpture and Environmental Art before going on to earn a masters with distinction in Fine Art Practice in 2021. She has exhibited with Hidden Door, had a short film commissioned by The Village Storytelling Festival and was the recipient of Surge’s Four Nations Outdoor Arts Bursary where she created an outdoor art-installation that used sculpture, storytelling and sound to explore gender based violence. The work toured four festivals in the UK and Ireland.


"My practice is multidisciplinary spanning moving-image, poetic narrative, illustration and sculpture. Through the practice of mould making and casting, my sculptural works are reminiscent of the everyday. This process of reproduction allows objects to take on an appearance that is instantly recognizable and comforting while the unlikely choice of material creates a sense of the uncanny: a mistrust in the familiar. I am interested in how this process mirrors the reproductive role of women in a capitalist society, creating a continuity in my work between subject matter and material practice. Through the shaping and welding of steel into feminist artworks, my work pulls at our associations with industry and of masculine labour while asking us to critique patriarchal power structures and the role of class in society. "



Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Glasgow


Did you always want to be an artist/creative? What inspired you to pursue your creativity?


I always loved drawing and making objects as a child. And even at a young age, I knew I wanted to be an artist. But as someone who struggled with issues associated with being from a low socioeconomic class as well as being neurodivergent, I found it really difficult to navigate high school education. That experience really quashed my creativity for a long time. I left school with few qualifications and even less confidence in my own abilities.


For the next ten years, I wandered in and out of minimum wage jobs that made me feel frustrated, demoralised and disregarded. And I saw the rest of my life laid out in front of me; an endless monotony of a job I hated that barely kept my head above water. And I knew if I was going to survive, something had to change.


What was your trajectory into the creative world like?


In 2012 I completed a course in Physical Theatre Practice at The Arches in Glasgow (which sadly closed its doors in 2015). It was an amazing hub of creativity and I felt very privileged to spend a year there, learning and making new friends. It really made me feel like part of a community. I spent the next few years working freelance as a drama facilitator. But I knew that wasn’t where my passion lay, I wanted to be a visual artist, so I started working on a portfolio in my free time and in 2016 I was accepted into Glasgow School of Art’s Sculpture and Environmental Art course. I then went on to earn a masters; something 25 year old me would never have even dared to dream of!


I now work as a freelance artist. But I don’t want to perpetuate the myth that if you work hard you can achieve anything because that’s not the reality for many people. I’ve worked hard my whole life. I worked hard in jobs that paid me a pittance and treated me like a number.

I guess the difference is now, I have a great support network of people who believe in me which has helped me be in the right place at the right time when some nice opportunities have come along.




What have been the biggest barriers you’ve faced as a working class creative?


When society tells you that you’re not intelligent enough, or eloquent enough, or deserving enough, it’s hard not to believe that narrative. And time. Time is a massive barrier to creativity when you're working poor: when you're not working, you're emotionally and physically exhausted from the stress of living in poverty. It’s hard to be creative under those circumstances.


What are you working on/ thinking about at the moment?


I’m currently really interested in collaboration with artists working in different art forms. I think people can find fine art intimidating or feel it’s not made for them, so I’m interested in how I can take my fine art practice and my deep interest in materiality and make it more accessible. I’ve found that through intertwining my work with that of theatre makers and musicians, together we are able to create work that people feel more confident engaging with and breaking down on their own terms. I have a couple of collaborative works in the pipeline so watch this space!


Describe a project you’ve completed that you’re proud of.


In 2022 I was commissioned by The Village Storytelling Festival to make Tumshie an experimental short film that uses sculpture, 2D animation and performance to camera to explore objectification, consent and patriarchal control. By reclaiming the words from the Grimm Brothers 1812 retelling of "Rapunzel", the work places the story back in the hands of its intended tellers and reconnects it with its original purpose: to instruct us on how to survive the patriarchy. The full film is on my website, go check it out!


Why is art/creativity important to you?


Art is an important form of activism. I believe it is the role of the artist to question societal norms and contribute to difficult cultural conversations. Through open and honest discourse, we can reach people and start to effect change.


What/who are your biggest inspirations? Where do you find inspiration?

I’m really inspired by historian and mythographer Marina Warner’s work on the fairytale. Her research into the historical role of the fairytale as a political and feminist tool has hugely influenced my interest in storytelling and the form my work takes.


Describe your dream project.

I would like to travel back in time and be employed to work with Rachel Whiteread on House (1993). To take a cast of something that large would just be immensely satisfying.


You can find Eilidh via her website or follow her on IG

You can contact her at: eilidhappletree@gmail.com


If you are a WCCD Member and would like to feature in our next members drop us an email at workingclasscreativesdatabase@gmail.com


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