Eleanor Macnair's approach to her photographic process is playful and inquisitive. Taking both iconic and lesser-known photographs and reconstructing them out of Play-Doh, she pares the original images down to their most simple forms and colours. The act of studying and recreating these two-dimensional images into a colourful sculptural form out of Play-Doh allows the artist the opportunity to slow down the act of viewing and to really examine the image, a challenge she also sets for those viewers who encounter her work.
Macnair's Play-Doh works have amassed an enthusiastic online following from professional photographers, curators, and collectors alike. Using amateur tools of Play-Doh, a chopping board, a scalpel and an empty wine bottle as a rolling pin, the works are skilfully constructed with commonplace household materials and with a child-like whimsy for play. Macnair's photographic renderings in Play-Doh offer a playful and accessible platform into a greater history of photography, its masters and iconic imagery that define the medium, alongside lesser-known works with the aim of bringing them to them to the fore. Her works are often formed into categories such as 'sofas', 'birds' or 'foliage', grouping works by incidental subject matter rather than historical or critical means to disrupt the canon and question how we judge art.
On the surface, photographs can condense complex ideas and present them in a straightforward visual language. However, by distilling these seemingly familiar compositions down to basic forms, Macnair hopes to encourage viewers to slow down, to take time when looking and to re-engage with familiar works as well as discover the unfamiliar ones.
We live in an age where we view hundreds of images a day on phones, computers, on billboards and in newspapers but never really look. We scan the information in the image, take what we need and move on. Macnair's reinterpretations present the familiar in a new and extraordinary way, encouraging the viewer to look slowly and rediscover our own child-like wonder at seeing something new for the very first time…something well-needed in our fast-moving modern-age defined by a mass influx of imagery and information.