Ell O’Farrell is a young Irish artist based in Dublin. By using a minimalistic approach in recent digital animations, Ell explores the foundations of anthropology, memory, and identity in a way that is pleasing to the eye. Most recently, her work concerns the distortion of memory as we move through time. It is in the consistent emphasis on line work, contrast, and shape, that we see the artist’s distinctive style. Her work has featured in IADT student shows such as Perceived Dimensions (IMMA 2018), Making the Tangible Intangible (United Arts Club 2019), and High Heart (Pallas Projects/Studios 2021).
Ell O’Farrell’s project concerns the distortion of memory through time. In works such as The Only Thing I Remember she uses digital animation to represent the clouding of a memory as we move through life. She collaborated with another student on the BA in Art (Patryk Kurkowski) on the creation of an ambient soundtrack, which builds throughout the course of the animation. Each frame of her animation was drawn by hand on a tablet in a time-consuming process and she is especially attentive to colour. As an artist with grapheme synaesthesia (which is the association of colour with feeling), she uses colour to convey emotion, whether it be turmoil, tranquility, or anything in between. She borrows from the simple imagery often found in children’s cartoons in order to explore complex themes such as melancholy and nostalgia, combining elements of familiarity and alienation.
This thesis addresses the films of Studio Ghibli in relation to their sources of inspiration. It specifically examines the influence of 19th century Japanese artworks behind Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001) and Princess Mononoke (1997). It aims to highlight a connection between the representation of Shinto mythology and religious icons in woodblock prints and scroll paintings quintessential to the end of the Edo period in Japan, and the adaptation made from these depictions in modern film. Themes of conflict between man and nature on the premise of over-consumption are at the core of these two Studio Ghibli films, and direct comparisons between these animations and 19th century Japanese art supports the theory that Hayao Miyazaki has built a tool to translate Shinto beliefs into traditional animation.