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A Magazine for Sheffield
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Enso "Through mark-making, I find that my work becomes a meditation"

With a basis in calligraphy and geometry, the Sheffield artist's impressive portfolio spans large-scale murals, illustration, screen-printing and tattooing.

If you’ve strolled past The Rutland Arms or partied at Dryad Works recently, you’ll no doubt have clocked the stunning murals gracing the walls. The artist behind said work is none other than Enso, and we’re thrilled to be showcasing his art this month.

What started you on the journey to becoming the artist you are today?

A big part of my desire to work as an artist originally came from my grandma. She was South Africa's Chief Heraldic artist. I remember going into her studio, full of strange and unnamable substances and tools that played with my imagination, and made me wonder how and what they could be used for. It was like an Aladdin’s cave of art. I would sit with her and paint over scans of coats of arms she was working on, whilst the master sat across from me plying her trade.

Your new mural at the Rutland Arms is a real treat for the eyes. How did it come about?

I worked at the Rutland Arms for the first six years of being in Sheffield. It was my introduction to this beautiful city and a second home for me as I assimilated into Sheffield life. I love Phlegm’s work but over the years the piece that was there became more and more defaced and I wanted to freshen it up. I wanted to give something back to a place that meant so much to me. I was so happy when I got the call from Jo Peel that I could paint that wall, as I had wanted to paint it for years.

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Where do you draw inspiration from when creating new artwork?

It really depends on what I am working on but there are definitely common themes. A lot of my inspiration comes from my work in automatism, letting the subconscious speak through the medium of drawing, unbound by concepts and a need to be understood. Calligraphy and geometry are obviously also huge factors. I love the refinement of them, the constant striving for perfection that is their nature. I like to play between the two opposing influences with my work.

I have always loved the process of making a mark on something, how it draws your focus into the present moment as the ink touches the page and leaves a mark indicative of that point in time. Through this I find that my work becomes a meditation.

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In addition to painting large-scale murals, you also work as a tattoo artist. How do you adjust so well to each medium?

I think it just comes down to years and years of doing art. I love drawing and painting things whether they’re large or small, on canvas, wall or skin. It matters little to me, I just want to draw.

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It feels like you’re putting your stamp on Sheffield, particularly with the pieces at The Rutland and Dryad Works. What is it about Sheffield that makes it a good backdrop for your particular aesthetic?

I grew up in the Black Country running around abandoned factories and spraying stupid stuff on walls. When I had my first studio in Kelham Island before there was much investment, it always reminded me of home. In relation to the wabi-sabi aesthetic I try to bring into my work, I find that this ruggedness of Sheffield is well juxtaposed to my refined calligraphic work.

I also love the amount of trees in this city. It’s something I find quite unique, hence a lot of my street art is made on cardboard and stapled onto trees. This is also a great practice in letting go as the work eventually decomposes.

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What’s next for you? Anything we should be looking out for soon?

I'm winding down my mural work as we get into winter but hoping for some more commissions to paint walls. I’ll be focusing on tattooing for now and will be getting back into the studio to carry on with my canvas work. This will lead to my first solo exhibition in spring next year, when I'll be bringing together the different aspects of my work - the perfection-based calligraphy and geometry and the freedom of automatism, revelling in the imperfect and abstract.

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)
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