Eelyn Lee is an award-winning artist and filmmaker who has exhibited across UK including Barbican, Tate Modern, National Portrait Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery as well as internationally in Paris, Berlin, Bogotá and Toronto.
Eelyn’s socially engaged practice combines collective research, devised theatre, screen writing and filmmaking to create frameworks for ensembles of collaborators to work together. Her Chinese/English heritage motivates her interest in race, identity and ’othering’. She is currently developing a narrative feature film exploring empire and race with a twist on the western and horror genres.
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With a Degree and Post-Graduate in Fine Art, Eelyn’s practice has focused on performance, installation and the moving image. In the nineties she co-founded the performance group Sacred Cow, making devised visual theatre in post-industrial spaces in the north of England.
In 2000 Eelyn began applying devising techniques to the process of filmmaking. During an 1-year residency in a pupil referral unit in Hackney, east London she made Beneath the Hood [2004/52mins], a film portrait of young people excluded from school, which was broadcast in UK and distributed worldwide.
In 2004 she formed the production company Eelyn Lee Productions Ltd through which she pioneered collaborative working with young people over a ten year period. Work included the award-winning film Life and Deaf [2012/8mins] and Truce Triptych [2012/3mins] which was selected for Les Rencontres Internationales and screened at Palais de Tokyo, Paris before screenings at Whitechapel, Imperial War Museum and Tate Modern.
In 2014 Eelyn exhibited An Ealing Trilogy, an historic new moving image commission from the National Portrait Gallery, London, marking the first ever projected film installation to be displayed at the gallery. This piece was also selected for Les Rencontres Internationales in Paris and Berlin.
In 2014 Eelyn was supported by Barbican and Arts Council England to embark on an investigation in to collaborative filmmaking. The first iteration, Monster [2015/16mins] premiered at the BAFTA Qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival and has screened at Barbican, Close-Up Film Centre and Focal Point Gallery. With further funding from Arts Council England, Eelyn developed the second iteration, Creature of the Estuary through a series of residencies at Metal, an artistic lab on the Thames Estuary. The film premiered at an outdoor screening at Coalhouse Fort as part of Estuary 2016 before it's London premiere at Whitechapel Gallery in February 2017. Eelyn is currently developing the third iteration, a feature length film for theatrical release.
In 2015 Eelyn was selected by Artquest to bring together a group of artists working at the forefront of socially engaged practice to form a Peer Forum at Peckham Platform. As a result of these sessions Eelyn co-founded Social Art Network, who in 2018, convened the inaugural Social Art Summit - an artist-led review of socially engaged arts practice in the UK and beyond.
In 2018 Site Gallery, Sheffield commissioned Eelyn's River Project - a collaborative research project exploring the River Don through a gothic lens and the Barbican commisisoned Futurist Women, a short film made in collaboration with 13-year old girls and a group of women who have experienced domestic violence. Futurist Women has screened at festivals in London, Sheffield, York and Berlin, and as part of 16 Days 16 Films - a film campaign against gender based violence.
In 2019 Eelyn completed Britishness, a creative documentary made in collaboration with young poets in Sheffield, exploring race, identity and belonging. Eelyn's latest commission is with Chinese Art Now, through which she will make Casting Fu Manchu, a short film exploring Yellow Peril in light of COVID-19.
Throughout her career Eelyn has developed a strong reputation as a workshop leader and facilitator and has designed and led numerous cross-art community projects for Barbican, English National Opera, University of the Arts London, Hackney Empire and a range of schools and colleges.
I am interested in groups of people, both in the making of the work and as a subject. By applying improvisation techniques usually associated with devised theatre, I like to work with an ensemble of collaborators to create content for moving images. This process can mean re-imagining people, place and stories to create a new mythology.
Ultimately, I am seeking to find new ways of constructing narrative within an emotional landscape, one that links places with people, story and memory, simultaneously capturing past, present and future, myth and reality.