Ilsa Brittain

Term: February-April 2024

Ilsa Brittain is from the UK but has spent most of her life travelling abroad. She studied her masters at the New York Academy of Art in New York. And is now currently living, working and exhibiting in London.

Ilsa is a painter, and uses many different techniques and mediums to create unusual combinations of illusion and surface texture. Interested in the abstract concepts of being human – the desire to understand, wanting connection, the complexities of identity, experiencing different driving forces, longing etc. Ilsa searches for subject matter that can help her make these ideas visible. For instance cloth is a motif she is currently exploring. Man-made and coming from natural fibres it itself is a combination of human will and the provision of nature. The particular folds created when it is dropped or placed are unique, and yet must conform to a logic inherent in the cloth, to gravity, and to the surface it is on. For Ilsa these aspects seem to align with ideas of freewill, intention, chance and the fleeting moment. From a huge databank of photographs she has taken, Ilsa searches for the chance positioning of a piece of cloth that will be the beginning of an idea. From this anchoring notion, she builds the painting, layer by many layer, often incorporating imagery, techniques and textures used in previous works.
Ilsa also uses alternative, open approaches to making work, where she can freely explore textures,  colours, paint application, and collaged combinations of imagery. Like sketching, this practice helps to continually feed new ideas and findings into her work.