Artists in residence: Luke George & Elizabeth Rose

In 2013, Ibiza and London interior designer – and all-round expert on things creative, cool and conscious – crossed paths with a young man called Luke George. He had passed by her Portobello Road store, looking to seek some gainful employment as he prepared to graduate from art school at City & Guilds in London. Digging beyond your standard interview questions, Katrina quickly discovered Luke was an artist – and an accomplished one at that, having been awarded – alongside his talented partner Elizabeth Rose – the prestigious Griffin Art Prize.

One thing led to another, Katrina visited the duo’s exhibition and instantly wanted to place their work in her shop, where they were so popular they sold out. “Their work is absolutely beautiful,” says Katrina. “It strangely has an amazing energy, like a crystal and it really seemed to me like it would resonate in Ibiza, and with everything I do.” Following her heart and her gut instinct, Katrina invited Luke and Elizabeth to live in her apartment and take over her store on the Santa Eulalia road, Katrina Phillips Ibiza, to live and work as artists in residence for a few months, spending time exploring the sacred sights of Ibiza and collecting natural pigments from the island to incorporate into their work.

The artists’ works are beautifully abstract pieces created with hand-made pigments made using ancient techniques – the process described as a ‘dance’ between the duo and the work, as one artist makes a mark, and the other must then respond. But before pigment hits paper, the artists completely immerse themselves in their surroundings, discover the stories, get to know the heritage, meet the locals, feeling a collaboration with the land and letting a narrative naturally manifest – a hugely important part of the creative process.

Ibiza was undiscovered territory for them both, and so the duo packed their materials into a hatchback and made the journey through England and France to arrive in Ibiza one gloriously sunny January morning at 6am. “The first thing we did was explore the landscape,” says Elizabeth. “Everything was just so beautiful, and the weather was cool enough to walk around for hours. We met Toby from Walking Ibiza, who took us on many amazing guided walks, telling us stories about the land, which was so important to us. To know and understand where we are means our work flows more freely.”

The red earth, the natural pine forests, the crystalline turquoise hue of the Mediterranean Sea, the golden sunset light, the silver full moon light, the almond blossoms, the vibrant colours everywhere – all were impressed into the artists brains. “We like to totally immerse ourselves in the environment,” explains Luke. “We become like sponges, walking, exploring and discovering and we responded to everything in nature for the first few months.”

“A lot of our work is about listening,” says Luke. “We have to have the quality of patience – an actual body of work can come together in two days if you set it up correctly but you can’t force it. We have to be very sensitive to each others moods, and we both work in very different ways. Sometimes in a piece we can take different roles, for example Elizabeth may be the expression while I am the materials. We work so dynamically, and that’s when our collaboration comes alive. We can have differences and passions, and when they meet and cause friction, something is born that couldn’t have been pre-empted by one of us alone.”

Employing ancient techniques to create pigments, using materials such as the visceral, earthy pink madder root, rich ochre and vibrant cochineal beetles among others, the artists feel a much stronger connection with their work, having physically been involved in the organic process of creating the colours. “It’s so much more beautiful when you create it yourself,” says Elizabeth. The artists can also create site-specific commissions, should you wish to draw personalised inspiration from your own home – drawing on materials found in the earth and inspired by your space.

Many of the pieces created in Katrina’s studio act like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Some become individual pieces, while others come together as a collection. For a newly established artist duo, Luke and Elizabeth’s work is already in the hands of serious art collectors, including the Grimaldi family and many of Ibiza’s private collections – making their mark, quite literally, in the art world and Ibiza alike.

You can view the artists’ ongoing work in Katrina’s studio here in Ibiza, though finished pieces are snapped up quickly. “Katrina has allowed us the space to challenge ourselves, but not get too ahead of ourselves here in Ibiza,” says Luke. Elizabeth agrees, citing the shop as an inspirational place to be based. “Working in this environment is really special, every object here has a story and is really special.”

From July 14, 2015, Luke George and Elizabeth Rose are hosting full-day workshops in the Katrina Phillips Ibiza store, taking participants foraging for materials, teaching them to make pigemnts, watercolours and oil paints, and collaborating on an interpretive marking project that will result in a unique work of art. For more information, contact katrinaphillips99@gmail.com