“When Wendy Elia paints a person they don’t look away”- Laura Bushell
Wendy Elia works in series which explore the social and broader contexts of our times. In her portrait work she confronts our voyeurism and asks questions about the female gaze and painting’s relationship to authenticity and illusion. Elia moves from the personal to the political not only in the range of content and form in the various series, but also within individual paintings: using a range of pictorial symbols and signifiers to extend the meaning/narrative of the works. She trained at St Martins School of Art, London and has exhibited widely being a finalist in a number of national and international competitions which include 4 times at the National Portrait Gallery, as well as The Sovereign European Art Prize, and The Threadneedle Prize. Her work is also held in a number of public permanent art collections across the country.
In 2012 she was commissioned by Sherbrne House Arts and B-side (funded by the arts council) to paint a portrait of a local sports person as part of the cultural Olympiad in Weymouth and Portland. Also In 2012 she was given an arts council grant to develop a body of work (Histories in the Age of Confusion), which was completed in January 2013. She has also been commissioned by the Arts Council to produce work relating to women’s self portraiture. This culminated in a group show with work by Sarah Lucas, Miranda Whall and others exhibited in September/October 2015 with touring dates to be announced. In 2016 the film and interviews with the artists about the project are on show in the Usher Gallery Lincoln – Shifting Subjects: Contemporary Women Telling the Self through the Visual Arts.
In 2016 she participated in a UCS Anglo-Chinese symposium, held at University of Suffolk by loaning them the large painting ‘Made In Britain’ (and giving a lecture on the work) which was exhibited alongside works from a number of Painters and Curators from China In October 2016 she had a solo show of her work in London (Thames-Side Studios Gallery, Woolwich London). A full colour catalogue for Wendy Elia’s London solo show is available on Amazon ‘Wendy Elia – Paintings 2004 – 2016 with an Introduction ‘Myth-Making and Myth-Breaking. ‘Wendy Elia and the Constitutive Other’ written by Anna McNay – (Art Writer and Editor) and Essay – ‘Migrant Histories and Art’ written by Dr. Marie-Anne Mancio – (Art Historian and Writer).
From December 2016 – March 2017 Wendy was part of a group exhibition at RWA in Bristol ‘Strange Worlds – The vision of Angela Carter’. This major exhibition celebrated the life and work of the hugely influential writer Angela Carter (1940-1992), twenty five years after her death. In bringing together art and literature, this exhibition featured historic art-work which influenced Carter, as well as those of contemporary artists inspired by her work. The painting ‘Maxime’ was loaned from the East Contemporary Arts Collection for this exhibition.
In 2017 her recent work toured China with the Contemporary British Painting group in a show curated by Marco Cali, Mengmeng Wang and Robert Priseman. In January 2017 she was awarded a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in New York and in 2019 she was elected as an Academician at the RWA