Ella Sutherland’s practice spanning graphic design and contemporary art critically examines visual communication – how text and image are used to transmit information and ideas.

Recto Verso takes its starting point from Sutherland’s recent work as part of the Gwangju Biennale which sought to examine the printed matter produced from the biennale since its inception. Exploring what this might reveal about the event’s voice and self-image.  

 For Objectspace, Sutherland has worked with mechanical print production - printing produced using a master form or template such as a screen, plate or block. Recto Verso engages with the form and function of these analogue printing processes alongside their poetic potential to engage viewers. Considering how the evolution of printing technologies have impacted the dissemination of thought, such as through the digital mass production of pamphlets, posters or publications. Mechanical techniques have the capacity to reflect on politics of visibility – addressing how and by whom information is seen.  

The paper and plate forms presented in Recto Verso draw on geometric proportions theorised by typographer Robert Bringhurst in his 1992 book The Elements of Typographic Style. Bringhurst illustrates page forms regarded intuitively as attractive, due to their relationship to the human body, music and the natural world. Such as the proportion and size of the printed page in relationship to how it may be held and used in the hand. Recto Verso continues Sutherland’s interest in the ongoing development of visible language systems that employ universal and idealised forms, and the power and potential of printed matter as a physical expression of the methods by which information is designed. 


Ella Sutherland is a Sydney-based, New Zealand artist and graphic designer who holds an MFA from the University of Canterbury (2012). Her work investigates complex systems of reading and navigation within the built environment. 

Recent exhibitions include Carte Blanche, Ilam Campus Gallery, Christchurch, 2019; Imagined Boarders, Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, 2018; Slow Seeing and Attention to Make, The Dowse, Wellington, 2016. In July of this year, Sutherland will participate in Bookworks, a survey of contemporary artist book publishing at Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne.

Sutherland was recently selected by International Art Space to participate in the 2020 iteration of spaced, a recurring programme of context-responsive art in Western Australia, and as a 2020 recipient of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Moya Dyring Memorial Studio at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. She was the 2018 Summer Resident at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington, and was selected for the 2018 Evolving Book programme, at the Banff Centre, Canada.

Sutherland was co-founder of Dog Park Art Project Space and co-director between 2012–2014, she is a current board member of The Physics Room, both contemporary art spaces located in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Ella Sutherland, Notes After the Text, 2018

Ella Sutherland, Notes After the Text, 2018

Ella Sutherland, Notes After the Text, 2018