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This Artist Makes Art From Play-Doh
There is much more than using it to craft with toddlers
Feature 24 Jul 2019

Thought Play-Doh belonged in the toy box? Think again! Your favourite way to make art as a toddler is now being legitimately used as an artistic medium by photography-based artist Eleanor Macnair. Having begun in 2013 after being asked to recreate her favourite photograph  in plasticine during a pub quiz in Brighton, England, she took the next step and defined her career using the substance and rendering her favourites images –  some world-famous, others simply personal choices. Think of the sleeping lovers in Henri Cartier-Bresson’s famous “Romania 1975” to give you a sample.
Working predominantly with a chopping board, scalpel and an empty wine bottle as a rolling pin, we spoke to Eleanor to find out more about her ethos.

Eleanor Macnair - Photo by Kristina Sälgvik

Eleanor Macnair – Photo by Kristina Sälgvik


 
In the art world you currently find most exciting that…
You don’t have to be anyone to be someone.
 
Number of unanswered mails in your account today…
Unanswered or unread? Unanswered date from 1999, unread 0. I’m nosy.
2

Original photograph: Self-portrait as Frederick Douglas from the series ‘Project Disaspora’ by Omar Victor Diop rendered in Play-doh


 
Perfect outfit to create/perfect outfit to sell art…
My old jeans without my lucky green pendant / my old jeans with my lucky green pendant.
 
Your everyday online art read is…
The weather report. I have a one-year old and so the time to read and think about art outside my work is a luxury. But it turns out that the weather report and art news have a lot in common.
3

Original photograph: Phoenix Park on a Sunday, Dublin, 1966 by Evelyn Hofer


 
After a bad day in the art world, you need…
Sleep
 
On your office table / in your studio you always have…
The empty broken wine bottle I use as a play-doh rolling pin.
4

Original photograph: Photomaton self-portrait by Jacques-Andre Boiffard, 1929


 
Favourite art x brand collaboration…
Miranda July’s ‘Everlasting doubt’ t-shirt for uniqlo
 
You first post on Instagram…
A portrait of Guinevere Van Seenus with cigarette by Paolo Roversi rendered in Play-Doh from 2014
5

Original photograph: Untitled, 1975 by William Eggleston


 
Favourite hashtag…
#isanybodythere?
 
Your art world girl crush…
Several – disparate – @strandclare @newshatavakolian @mirandajuly Sally Mann @ritamacdonald
6

Original photograph: Michael and Sandy Marsh, Amarillo, Texas, September 27, 1974 by Stephen Shore


 
Describe yourself with three emojis…

?  ?️ ?

 
Art boy I would love to have lunch with…
Corey McCorkle – an old pal
 
Favourite new artist discovery…
For my play-doh project I often spend time looking backwards rather than forwards so a recent discovery from the past is Ute Mahler. More contemporary discoveries are the photographer John Myers and Clementine Schneidermann and Charlotte James collaborative work.
#artworldgoals?
Cover illustration for The New Yorker.

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