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Tales Behind the Art: An Artistic Adventure with Ellie Compton

Oct 10, 2022  ·  6 min read

Ellie Compton is a self-professed ‘Maker of Chaos’ and the artist behind room 431’s The Floating Isles. An architect and artist who runs a Christchurch based art studio called Maker of Chaos, Ellie gathers people’s life stories and weaves them into chaotic and whimsical worlds of art that encourage imagination and discovery. Her storytelling and artistic style is expressed through framed artworks, murals, skateboards, corporate gifting and fashion collaborations. Each work uses black ink line drawing to intertwine architecture, playfulness, and storytelling to command the viewers’ attention and provoke them to stop their busy lives in order to understand people’s intricacies, values and backgrounds.


‘Maker of Chaos’ Ellie Compton.

Completed in 2018 as a part of QT Wellington’s ‘Your Art. Our Rooms,’ competition The Floating Isles is spread over two walls and intertwines specific stories collected from staff and visitors at QT Wellington, with more general ideas of interactions between locals and travellers in Wellington and New Zealand. We asked Ellie to share the tales behind the artwork so you can enter the wonderful mind of a maker of chaos and understand the narrative on your next stay.




Behind The Art: With Ellie Compton

The concept follows the journey of a traveller making their way to the ‘mainland’ (the large island above the bed) and all of the stops they make along the way (the smaller islands down the hallway of the bedroom). I am always inspired by people’s (and my own) real life experiences which makes each artwork very relatable and gives the onlooker almost an immediate connection to the work. My passion and desire is for people and businesses to feel understood, listened to and represented. So I’m constantly trying to refine and develop my art to achieve this and to create unique and fun drawings that people can immediately connect with and want to engage with.


The Stories

Small islands line the hallway as you walk into room 431 where you can pause and see where this travellers adventure starts. The first drawing explores escaping from your comfort zone. In this instance it’s looking at all of the home comforts the traveller has, while also daydreaming and digging up (in a literal digger in the backyard) and bringing to the surface all of their hopes, dreams and adventures.

Following the small islands, the traveller is seen to row their way to the mainland where an incredible world of discovery awaits them. I wanted the mainland to truly reflect all things, New Zealand, Wellington, and of course, QT. In the weeks leading up to installation, I interviewed staff and guests to gather all types of stories and viewpoints of the hotel. And you can bet that I got all the juicy goss that would otherwise only be shared in the staff room and after work drinks.

Compton at work installing her work in Room 431.


Some of the crazy stories that made the cut were: A person who booked a stay in the hotel and ended up painting the whole room black. Yes. Black…. walls, ceiling, lights… everything. There was a guest that requested Celine Dion posters be put up in their room prior to arrival. And of course, I drew in rooms that represented the guests who expected 5-star perfection.

There was a funny moment that occurred when installing the mural. The whole floor was under construction, so naturally we all got to know some of the tradies that frequented the floor. One day I had a guy come up to me say “haha can you put me in the artwork?”, he obviously thought there was no way that he would get a feature. But the next day he came back to find ‘Luke’s Tradie Paradise’ feature right at the top of the ‘mainland’. Safe to say that Luke was pretty chuffed with his tool shop and ‘Big Hammer Beer Bar’. All of these elements were important to the overall story that the artwork tells and Luke may not realise it but even he plays a part in the story of QT Hotel.



Mainland had a big focus on QT itself with some cheeky additions including a secret lift that descends below the ground for the ‘mums gone wild’, with secret shopping spots, beer pong competitions, wine and gossip sessions. You’ll see a ‘Ferraris Only’ sign in the valet spot and the Hot Sauce restaurant with pipes that travel up to a ‘Spicy Sauce Factory’ along with depictions of different guest stories like awkward hallways in between divorced couples, honeymooners and private gyms for people who just like to look at themselves.

Many unique Wellington themes are also represented through the very identifiable Victorian style houses, you’ll see Oriental Bay beach with packed walkways, The Beehive with plenty of political party-parties happening, but not a lot of actual politics.

Throughout all of my art I try to use humour to highlight the ridiculousness of some of our modern day thinking and stories from the hotel are illustrated that you wouldn’t otherwise find out about – unless you were a fly on the wall of course. I think that all too often we are too busy with our own lives to look deeper and ask questions of things that don’t command our attention and thoughts. It’s my intent that people who experience my art steal a moment in order to discover stories and hidden details that would otherwise be missed.

An iconic Oriental Bay villa precariously atop one of Compton’s floating isles.


L4 Galleria

Seeking adventure and the avant-garde in equal measure? Unlock the door to your own private art viewing with our eclectic Gallery Rooms on Level 4. Each one uniquely commissioned to tell tales of the city and beyond, where art and luxury collide in New Zealand’s creative capital.

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