Unicorn Found by Natalie Ellner

Natalie Ellner is a creature designer who works with all sorts of mystical creatures and most recent smuggled a unicorn into her studio in The Heartspace. 

The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. Roald Dahl

Miss Ellner, we hear you're looking for space to shoot a white bejewelled unicorn, we just wanted to make sure you were alright...
How on earth did this unicorn find its way into your Heartspace studio?

NE: Mostly by magic I would say – when I think about the size of the creature and the size of the space it was created in there was certainly a lot of magic involved! So I would like to thank you guys for your help and letting me photograph it in one of your wonderful new studios.

The Unicorn belongs to James Perkins of Aynhoe Park. If you haven’t seen Aynhoe Park then you must check it out – It’s such a wondrous place filled with magical creatures, artworks and beauty – collected by James from around the world. There is a lot of old Victorian taxidermy there and I have been working with James to breathe new life into some of his creatures. The Unicorn was an old horse that was in need of a lot of love so I set to work designing and creating magical Unicorn armour and hair that would be fit for a creature living in such an enchanted place.


Do you have much experience working with mystical creatures?

NE: Yes – all of my work is based around magical creatures. Whether it’s the people who commission me, the photographers I work with or the pieces I create – there is always a magical creature at the heart of it. I grew up in Cornwall so a fascination with nature, folklore and magic is in my blood and I seek it out wherever possible. I have been lucky enough to create an array of magical creatures that range from Unicorns at Aynhoe Park, Peacocks parading palaces at The Animal Ball in Clarence House to a feathered Magpie Hat to meet the Queen for Kate Winslet CBE.

Sounds like this would go down well at a festival. Are you a festival goer?

NE: Ah yes – a lot of magic happens at festivals. They act as a platform for people to connect with a magical part deep inside themselves – to let go and feel free.

What are your top festival style tips? (for those of us daydreaming about Glasto...)

NE: Become your inner animal – be wild and just have fun. Don’t worry about what other people might be thinking of you – when else can you put a Peacock on your head and dance around in a field - just be free!


You seem like you are in full creative flow, any advice for bringing it into your life?

NE: Well it’s not been easy to get to this stage and being freelance can be scary. It’s really easy to let fear grab hold of you and worry about what you will do next and how much money you need to make to pay the bills – but this strangles your creativity. It is one of the hardest battles. I have been very lucky to work with some amazing people and work on some incredible projects and I guess my advice is just believe in what you are doing and the people you work with and that you have something unique to bring to the world. Stay positive and never make a decision based in fear

They say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...your work looks and feels a lot like play, is it a #dreamjob ?

NE: Yes – I can say that I love what I do and I love the freedom that comes with being able to create all day long. But there is always sacrifices to be made and getting a balance between my work and the rest of life is sometimes tricky. Thankfully I don’t feel like I am missing out when I have a Unicorn in my studio.

The great thing about being in Hackney Downs is that its filled with artists from different spheres so we can all help each other grow. As well as working on commissions I also love collaborating with other creatives – I think this keeps your work fresh and would love to hear from anyone who has an exciting project in mind.

Read more about Natalie - Resident spotlight: Natalie Ellner and find out about available studio spaces or sign up to the available studios newsletter to be the first to know.

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