Ella Masters with her brother Saul in 2017 at the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde ParkJust over a year ago Ella Masters lost her brother Saul when he took his own life. Only three years earlier in 2015, Ella and Saul had lost their mother to a severe asthma attack.
But, instead of being angry, Ella bought herself an A6 sketchbook, a pack of Posca pens and started to search through her work for ‘the beauty in death’.
Ella says: ‘My brother wasn’t just my brother, he was an incredible writer, supporter of my work, someone with endless potential. He was creative and kind and his death felt like a terrible waste.
‘Rather than spend my time being angry I wanted to take myself away and fill my time with something that was going to help me create space for my grief.’
Ella Masters, who has created 365 illustrations over the past year under the hashtag #ella365project after her brother took his life last yearEvery day for the next year, she gave herself an hour a day to switch off and draw one illustration to help her navigate her way through her loss.
‘I set myself a hashtag #ella365project so I could have my drawings in one place. This enabled me to be accountable, to keep myself on track so I could see how far I’ve come,’ Ella says.
One of Ella’s sketches from her #ella365project‘I also shared a snap of the pages on my Instagram under that hashtag and had some incredible feedback and support from followers, magazines, podcasts and from people who said that seeing the posts every day helped them with their mental health.
‘I even had a few followers tell me their story and say that seeing my work helped them to find confidence to get help when they were close to suicide,’ she says.
Ella’s ‘If IT Were Easy Everybody Would Do It’ print, available at We Built This City on Carnaby StreetElla completed the project on 27 April of this year and it is now being featured in an exhibition at We Built This City, a shop on Carnaby Street, London.
After first discovering Ella via Instagram in 2015, when they were looking for a portrait illustrator, team saw Ella’s project and wanted to support her and her message.
A print from Ella’s #ella365project
‘We were so captivated by watching Ella produce these enriching and healing illustrations through Instagram, we wanted to support her in bringing this body of work to a bigger audience,’ says Alice Mayor, the founder of We Built This City.
A selection of Ella’s sketches from her #ella365project can be viewed now in thea free exhibition at We Built This City as part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019.
You can buy Ella’s sketches in print or postcard format in store or online, with a percentage of every sale donated to CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) charity.
On the 17 or 22 May, you can take a drawing workshop with Ella, or visit We Built This City to have your portrait drawn by Ella for £15. First-come, first-served from midday Saturday 18 May 2019.
Follow Ella and her work on Instagram here.