After my last chat with Viragos guitarist and sweet pea Rana, Laura has generously given me author permissions once again to tell the story of another local unassuming skater girl legend.
Serendipitously - as most things are in Newy - Laura and I both know Ella for different reasons, and through different social grapevines.
My first proper introduction to Ella was as a socially distanced neighbour during Australia’s firmest lockdown period in March 2020. Rana, myself, and our other housemates, India and Rosie, would often go on neighbourhood walks/dance commutes and stop by Ella’s place at the halfway point.
I fondly remember Ella’s small silhouette standing at the beautiful post-colonial archway of their Hamilton share-home, longing to give my housemates and I an old-fashioned hug. It was hard to get to know her from a social distance, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, I’ve been fortunate to become increasingly acquainted with the diversity of creative endeavours Ella has been pursuing over her twenty one years.
Ella, I wasn’t sure how long it was going to be before I got the chance to get to know you in your own home - I didn’t want the police knocking on either of our doors. Anyway, now that I’m here, I’d love to hear how you describe yourself to those who are curious about your creative practices.
I had two very creative parents growing up - I’m lucky in that way. I was never discouraged with my creativity.
For a long time, during high school, all I wanted to do was front a band. During this time, I was also getting big into art and I found a lot of creative expression that way.
Over the last year or so, I’ve found most of my creativity through writing, particularly poetry and verses. I’ve found that through this form, I can best express myself. A lot of my most recent writing has been the way I’ve healed from past experiences.
During COVID I would write, journal, read, photograph everyday.
Super inspiring. I want to first talk about your photography. It feels very honest and familiar. How long have you been engaging in photography around Newcastle?
I was gifted with a camera when I was 12 years old from a friend who shared many similar experiences as I did. They wanted to give me a creative outlet. That gift was really meaningful because I still use it today.
I took a lot of photos around town in my young teens, and soon enough I was taking photos of friends, many of whom were in bands at the time. I love being able to collaborate with people and in Newcastle, it’s really accessible and easy to socially navigate.
Agreed. Absolutely. Have you always called Newcastle home?
I moved here from rural Victoria when I was two years old.
That real rural rugged Australian gothic outback genre is something that inspires me greatly and I think that it comes from having my roots there.
Naturally, I saw a lot less of your photos containing friends during lockdown. How did your photography change in isolation?
I started to focus more on street photography. I was urging myself to capture as much as I could. I wanted to learn more about how to work the camera, and I did this thorough self-portraits and housemate portraits. It was amid lockdown that I had the freedom to understand the camera’s settings more deeply, and in doing so, find my technique.
That’s a great way to turn a lousy time into something more productive. I noticed that you began scanning your sketchbooks at this time, which was also around the time you began sharing your poetry. How long have you been writing poetry?
Over a year now. Across March-December last year I had written 200 poems; it was a really spiritual feeling. I’ve experienced a lot of trauma throughout life and this was the first time it felt like I was living a normal, turmoil-free life. I found that I needed to get these thoughts down, otherwise I’d come to revelations and then forget them.
My first poetry was really dark and a lot, I felt, was too personal. But I still wanted it out. I wanted this to be something I was proud of. The responses I received when I shared those first poems was really encouraging and helped me pursue this practice.
I’m glad to hear it. Consider me part of the fan club. What has inspired your writing?
My mum has inspired me through her script writing. More broadly, my poetry isn’t too inspired from other poetry, it’s more from music. I love the story-telling type of music.
Would you ever publicly share your poetry as a spoken word?
I don’t think I have the guts to stand up and share my poetry in that way.
I love the way you use typography and photography to make your poetry visually beautiful to read, as well as expanding the meanings and motifs in your writing. Where do you hope to bring these creative practices next?
I want to continue what I’m doing now as well as delving into some other things.
I’m really getting into videography at the moment. I feel my photography is a stepping stone for what I could do with video.
I also really want to publish a book or zine. I think there is a stigma to post poems publicly, and I think there’s even more of that when you publish a book. It’s very normalised to publish and share music but poetry is quite different.
Fortunately, there’s lots of small business (eg. Laate, Suspension, The Press) that are supporting this kind of medium. That’s the beautiful thing about Newcastle - there are no huge consequences to what you do. It’s something we’re very lucky to have here. There are so many platforms that are being given the creative community.
Hear hear! Do you think we’ll ever have the pleasure of seeing your photography or writing exhibited anywhere in the near future? ;)
In terms of my photography/videography, I’ve recently collaborated in the production of a music video for local musician and skater, Aquinas. SEE EPIC VIDEO ABOVE !!
When it comes to my poetry, I’m in the process of forming my body of work into a book that I intend to publish this year.
So sick. Around starting to skate, this woman is doing seriously good things.
If you want to keep up with Ella’s portfolio of beautiful written and photographic work, follow her instagram @ellathesane.
Bladerunner v The Grand Budapest Hotel - Grand Budapest - for those pastels of course.
Buzzcut v Bleach blonde - bleach blonde
Kodak Ektar v Kodak Portra - Portra - I got a really good roll out of them recently.
Newcastle at day v Newcastle at night - At night by far - especially in town at the East End.
Cappadocia v Spennos - Nooo - I’d have to say spennos, but as a side note, Cappadocia’s felafel kebab is something else.