Life of colour: Ellise Roberts opens the door to her home studio on wheels

February 13, 2020 BY

Ellise Roberts in her Jan Juc studio. Photo: PETER MARSHALL

Since the early 2000s, Ellise Roberts has infused every aspect of her life with creative flair.

Completing a Diploma of Art Screen Print Design at RMIT University in 2002 before returning to obtain a Bachelor of Textile Design, Ellise’s love of colour has simultaneously flourished alongside her art practice.

The Jan Juc illustrator, who was appointed co-ordinator of Anglesea’s Surf Coast Art Space in July, relocated to the area about seven years ago.

And while inspiration has a way of creeping into her daily consciousness, her two-year trip around Australia has proven an enduring source of ideas.

“My partner and I did a trip around Australia for two years and we were around a lot of birds and wildlife. I’ve got a lot of photos that I work on from my travel, and I draw based on different photos I’ve taken,” she said.

“I’ve always loved botanicals, and I love doing long distance bushwalking. I love that amongst the green leaves there’s often the most tiny but beautiful little flowers that pop up.”

Flowers and birds are a recurring subject matter in Ellise’s artworks.

Ellise’s love of birds resurfaced when she was involved in Kate Gorringe-Smith’s Overwintering Project.

The initiative engages with artists to raise awareness for one of Australia’s most endangered group of birds – migratory shorebirds.

“Last year I helped facilitate the travelling exhibition which encourages people who teach printmaking to run printmaking sessions around Australia and New Zealand,” she said.

“It really reignited my passion for birds again and how amazing they are.”

Working out of a quirky 1960s caravan which is home to her watercolour paints, Ellise first took up residency at Ashmore Arts before deciding to work from home.

Her young daughter, Mila, also helps occupy the space.

“I illustrate my textile designs before I paint them,” Ellise said.

“When I started studying screen printing in 2002, it was a lot about hand cut paper stencils and these days textile design uses digital scanning to manipulate design. I think my work is a combination of the two.”

Although Ellise invests many hours in other artists, particularly through her role at Surf Coast Art Space, she views this as time gained rather than lost.

“I have a lot of different creative connections and it’s been really nice to join some of those networks together,” she said.

“I love being able to support people having an exhibition for the first time and helping them feel supported.

“It’s really nice to see what people are working towards because I often think ‘oh gosh, I’d really like to do more of that in my work’.”

Ellise’s studio, which is parked in the driveway of her Jan Juc home.

Ellise’s works are now on show at Surf Coast Art Space as part of a group exhibition titled Shapeshifting: An exploration of process and shape.

Local artists Danielle Rowarth, Kirsty Manger, Lauren and Merryn Tune have also taken part, with ceramics, oil, acrylic and watercolour paintings, jewellery and sculpture on show.

“All the artists are linked through creative practice in one way or another, and we’ve all interpreted the theme shapeshifting in a different way,”
Ellise said.

“I’ve explored it through the processes I’ve developed in my work over the last 15 years. It’s a great opportunity for people to see my work in person as seeing it by eye is very different to seeing it on social media.”

Ellise has also co-designed a line of camping chairs which are available at the gallery.

She said all profits would be forwarded to the Men’s Shed of Narooma – one of many towns affected by Australia’s recent bushfires.

Shapeshifting: An exploration of process and shape is on at Surf Coast Art Space (103 Great Ocean Road, Anglesea) until this Sunday (February 16).

To learn more about Ellise, head to

Thank you for supporting local journalism!