Meet Elli Bardas, the artist behind our 'Love & Legacy' portraits

May 11, 2018
As a photographic artist Elli’s work focuses on spiritual and physical boundaries and finding the essence of people, places and experiences. While she has travelled extensively, she was born and bred in Melbourne Australia, and is currently finishing a degree in Fine Art Photography at Photography Studies College. Elli won the inaugural Martin Kantor Acquisitive Portrait Prize in August 2017. Also in 2017, she had a solo show as part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale Fringe program and was in a group show with her Advanced Diploma graduating class. She has exhibited twice in CCP’s Salon, winning Excellence in Colour award in 2015.

Where did you draw your inspiration from for the composition of the photos, and the grandmothers in front of the wallpaper?
My initial visual inspiration was from a Polish art student, Natalia Weirnik.  I saw her images online and found them very powerful and captivating.  I then adapted the style to fit how I see the world.  My initial series using this style was about how we fill our surroundings with thing that look like us and while we can be camouflaged by it, I actually saw each person’s individuality come through.  With the grandmothers, I wanted to continue with that theme and really show the similarities while celebrating their individuality.

What was the most fun part about taking these photos?
The entire process was fun!  I truly loved meeting the women. They were all open, generous and supportive and I learnt something from each of them.  I left each session feeling part of the sisterhood and the web of life. Then choosing the material is quite a painstaking and fiddly job that is also very satisfying. It fulfils my desire to play with fabric even though I have no sewing skills!

What do you think audiences will feel when looking at these portraits?
I hope they feel proud and connected to their own grandmothers.   I hope we all take a moment to honour the amazing grandmothers in our lives.

Did your perception of Jewish grandmothers change through the taking of these photos?
My grandparents weren’t stereotypical grandparents so I guess I knew that there is no such thing as a typical Jewish grandmother.

Can you tell us a bit about your grandmothers?
I loved both of my grandmothers.  They were both so glamorous, sophisticated and exotic. For me it was different to how I see grandmothers now.  They didn’t play an active role in my life and I didn’t spend any one on one time with them which I miss retrospectively.  The times were different though.

Thanks Elli! You can check out Elli’s extraordinary photographs on display now in the ‘Love & Legacy’ exhibition.