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Elena Willis

May 18, 2010

Born in England in 1979, Elena Willis lives and works in Quebec. An exhibition of her photography is currently on display at Galerie d’Este in Montreal. She is also one of fifteen Canadian artists selected to participate in the Art Montreal Contemporary exhibition in association with this month’s World's Fair in Shanghai. Willis' work is part of many notable public and private collections such as the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery of Concordia University. Her next project involves many people as part of a large scene, and she is always searching for subjects. Those interested in being in one of her images, can contact the artist at

1. Against the Stream

At the moment I’m reading Against the Stream by Noah Levine. The book is described as a “Buddhist manual for spiritual revolutionaries” and it’s an inspiring guide and introduction to finding inner peace through learning and applying Buddhist teachings.

2. Peasant Da Vincis

I’m in Shanghai this week and was amazed by an exhibition called Peasant Da Vincis at the Rockbund Art Museum. The art, made by Chinese peasants, consists of these incredible machines that they invented and built, each serving a different purpose. It’s amazing and you can check it out on the museum's website. I also enjoyed Peter Bialobrzeski’s exhibition at Gallery 97. It’s been a pleasant surprise how much I enjoy Shanghai, it’s a great city for many reasons and I recommend coming here if you get the chance.

3. Early mornings

I love early mornings, and I know that not many people share this sentiment, but getting up at 5:30 or 6am is great. It’s something I’ve discovered by force since becoming a mom, but I love it. Starting the day not in a rush is relaxing and sets the tone for the rest of the day.

4. Babies

On that topic, if you ask what my current interests and obsessions are, how can I not mention my twenty month old baby boy, Elias? He’s not in daycare, so we spend our days together, and I’m trying to get him used to being on a photo shoot. I can’t wait for the days when he’s on a shoot, loving it and maybe even helping mom with lighting and whatever else needs to get done. I’m learning all the time about being a mom and raising a child. It’s a full time interest.

5. Kidnapping stories

Talking about children brings me to another interest that has been fueling talks lately: the film script my husband is in the process of writing, which is based on the true story of a child being kidnapped and held captive in a cellar for years. We have about twenty-five books on the topic, so the books and the stories of these sick men who do this are present everyday in my life, such as the Austrian man Josef Fritzl who held his daughter captive in a cellar for twenty-four years. And if that’s not horrific enough, there are stories of kidnapping victims having their heads placed in suffocating boxes for years, such as the “Girl in the box” story. Truly disturbing.



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