Heather Ellyard was born in Boston, USA. She migrated to Australia in 1970 and spent three years in Papua New Guinea just after its independence. After years in Collingwood/ Melbourne, she currently lives on a remote property in Central Victoria.
Ellyard has held 27 solo exhibitions, in Adelaide, Canberra, Maitland, Melbourne and Sydney and has been represented in more than 50 group shows, including Paris, Durban and Beijing, as well as the Blake Prize in Sydney three times. She was art reviewer on ABC radio for three years, has taught part-time in art schools in the ACT, Adelaide, and Melbourne, was on the board of Artbank for four years, and has written for art publications since 1985. She has received two grants from the Australia Council and one from the South Australian Department for the Arts.
Ellyard’s work is held in private collections here and abroad, and in public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the Commonwealth Parliament House Collection, the Jewish Museum of Australia, Artbank, the University of South Australia, the Premier’s Office of South Australia, the University of Canberra, Monash University Medical Centre and Gawarshad Institute of Higher Education, Kabul Afghanistan.
There are two quotes I keep near. I hold them close because both are true for me:
Everything fits. Everything I know is useful.
Toni Morrison, writer USA
All developed language has a private core.
George Steiner, After Babel
My work is an inclusive, gathering-in of what I sense out there where the world wobbles, shifts, despairs and tries to renew itself, in pieces.
I use these findings in a condensed, metaphoric, associative way, like the poem. Meanings are layered and sometimes fragmented, incomplete, waiting to settle.
I’ve reached a place in my life where everything, from black holes to geo-politics, from the universe to very small human details, matters. There are no stops, only pauses, in my search for meaning….now, in our time, with all of its sorrows and bling, with its wonders, ordeals and near tipping points.
For a long time I have asked myself whether and how art matters in an atmosphere of global imbalance, violence and suffering. The only answer I know, for me, is not that beauty counts, but that paying attention, caring, being true to a language-of-meaning counts, and beauty may be a by-product of that process. And poems may rise up and rejoice. This is why I go on and on making art.