Elle-louise Burguez: My Career In Art and Music Is About Delving Into Worlds of Beauty

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How often am I escaping?

This is a question I asked myself at around 3am last Tuesday when I just could not sleep.

I was having some kind of epiphany. My existential dread was weaving hundreds of muddy coloured threads into a web of guilt across my mind.

I was asking myself questions like: Are you doing what you actually want to do each day? Do you spend most of your time distracting yourself? What is your purpose in this life? Is everyone else doing life better than you? Do you realise you’re nearly halfway to sixty?

In some ways, I am thankful for having had this ‘dark night of the soul’. My mum has taught me about nights like these and how they serve as stepping-stones on everybody’s ‘Hero’s Journey’. Taking perspective in the early hours has got me thinking outside of my usual patterns, as uncomfortable as it is.

I have realised that I go on my devices as if seeking an instant ‘answer’. Although, that need for gratification seldom gives me the satisfaction I am looking for. The impulse that leads me to go online is really just an emotion coming up that I need to sit with or explore.

Patiently exploring the emotion rather than cutting it short allows these feelings to become the source of my creativity, where the ‘answer’ arises rather than is ‘found’: Far more fulfilling.

Since then, I have been trying to reach for a book more than my phone. I have been staring at the turquoise sea more than the rich kids on Gossip Girl. I have been out in the garden more and I have been cutting down on ‘treat yourself’ moments.

It’s only been a few days and I am already feeling my addiction to escapism calling me back.

There is a romance to escapism, too. I often say in reference to my career in art and music, that I am trying to help my audience escape into a dreamy world — a place where they can find inspiration, connection and solace. I feel myself retreating into my paintings as I swirl yellows and blues and am subsumed by the melodies I sing at night.

Through my phone, I see my friends overseas ‘escaping’ to Greece in their photos taken under Aegean sunsets. Or others here at home, driving up the beach, surfing their days away before sleeping under the stars. Aren’t these some of the most beautiful moments of life?

I don’t think I would be where I am today in my creative world if I didn’t choose to sway towards this part of myself. I have always felt drawn to and inspired by the rich imagery revealed through films, fashion, nature and travel. If I didn’t delve into these worlds of beauty, I don’t think I would feel as inclined to paint. If I didn’t feel the joy or the doom sometimes, I don’t think my songs would move people to dance or to cry.

All in all: My eyes are far less red, and my heart is much fuller when I choose to ‘be’ rather than to ‘do’ or ‘go’. Seventeen-year-old me and my best friend used to say, ‘always the going and never the being’. We knew it even then, before Instagram and TikTok, and hundreds of shows at our fingertips. We knew back then that humans find it very hard to be ‘here’ and not wish that they were ‘there’.

Cut to today: a sunny Thursday afternoon. The view outside my window is of rolling green hills, large boisterous trees, a scattering of dandelions that rainbow lorikeets nibble on, spotted cows and brown horses chewing grass.

I am at an exciting point in my career and my relationships are deeper. I am healthy and I am safe. Where I am at is a place worthy of escaping to.

Still, I know I will be finishing this season of Gossip Girl as soon as it is released, and I know I will get in a YouTube hole over the next 72 hours.

It is now 3pm. I feel an urge to grab some chocolate, laugh at Larry David, check my emails, scroll through photos of women who have what I don’t, browse online furniture stores I can’t afford, and read endless news and diverse opinions on the current devastation impacting the world.

We will leave what I end up doing to your imagination. As for being: I have found some clarity and I know my goal is to be fully engaged in whatever I decide to do from here on out. I choose to be myself and not let the external pressures dim my light.

When I am ‘in’ my reality I can be open to feeling more joy. When I am open to feeling joy, where is the need for escape?

You can follow Australian artist and musician Elle-louise Burguez on Instagram.

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