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2016 – A difficult year politically and globally, but on a personal level it’s been filled with a variety of projects that have made up a year rich in different experiences. Here’s an overview of my artistic year 2016:

I started the year being invited to give a talk about my practice and recent projects at Manchester’s cultural venue, HOME.

I then began a year-long collaborative project with a sculptor, Sarah Smith, and sound artist, Caro C. ‘Nature, Skin and Bones’ took us walking around the Yorkshire Dales, up hills and into caves to explore our connection with nature and the land, together with addressing our transient place in the world.

 

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The project culminated in an immersive installation at the National Parks Museum, Hawes from October – December 2016. It was an interesting collaboration as even though we took main control over our specialist parts (light, sound, sculpture) we spent a lot of time discussing the symbolism of the work, the collective effect we wanted to give upon entering the space. Caro and I had a word jam to be included in the sound work, I ensured my lighting was not merely to illuminate Sarah’s wonderful sculpture but to add to the entire effect of the piece.

Simple lighting made the moonlike drum glow from within, spotlights picked out flecks and shadows of ancient stones and a stone pool of water, plus a simple low level bulb cast shadows of the work across the space like in a cave. Visitors’ shadows would also be cast across the space, making them a fleeting part of the work. Feedback was extremely positive, many felt the space was meditative and it slowed them down to become more present and inquisitive. A longer film about the project will be presented in the new year.

 

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I had my work picked up by the popular online magazine The Creators Project and they wrote a lovely article here.

Another project that ran throughout the year was my continued work with The Stroke Association and University of Manchester, called Stroke Stories. Last year we ran a series of creative workshops covering creative writing, visual arts, photography and music (find out more here) which culminated in an exhibition at Manchester Central Library. This year I curated a third, larger exhibition of the work and project at Victoria Baths in Manchester. Find out about my curatorial process here

 

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This project won ‘highly commended’ at the University of Manchester’s Making a Difference Awards 2016. After the final exhibition I organised a symposium about the project and arts and health issues at The Whitworth Art Gallery. We had presentations from participants and artists, panel discussions including experts from Arts Council England, University research specialists, stroke consultants and NHS directors. This was an excellent round up of the project but it also started a wider conversation about the benefits of this type of work with survivors of stroke that will be continued well into the future and I’m excited to be a part of helping to implement.

 

Another continuing project is my work co-directing Manifest Arts. This year was the year between festivals (Manifest Arts Festival is biennial) so we turned our attention to a new way of manifesting (!) arts in the North West and obtained Arts Council England funding to conduct a series of interviews with artists working in the North West for our Manifest Arts Podcast series. We interviewed many artists, curators and gallery directors. Find out more and access the interviews here. The series proved so successful that we are continuing to conduct interviews for the podcasts into the new year.

 

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Also as part of Manifest Arts, we had Manifest at The Manchester Contemporary, the largest art fair of its kind in the North of England. We promoted the festival and represented and sold the work of two North West based artists we feel are creating exciting and interesting work at this time. We chose fine artist, Helen Wheeler, and fine art photographer, Lucy Ridges. Find out more about them and the Manchester Contemporary here.

 

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Manifest Arts at The Manchester Contemporary – work by Helen Wheeler and Lucy Ridges

 

In September I was fortunate to have my work DREAMERS shortlisted for the prestigious international lighting awards, the Darc Awards in the ‘Best Light Art (Low Budget)’ category.

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I also had a 2-page feature spread in international lighting design magazine, Mondo*Arc: 

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In October I had two new commissions in the Blackpool Lightpool light festival. I created a new version of ‘The Stories Under Our Feet’ for a set of eight benches in Blackpool centre. The poem works physically and thematically with the flow of people around the space:

I pass you at night

Dreaming in Parallel

Dreaming in Parallel

I pass you at night

Depending on how you moved around the piece, the poem could be read in different permutations and still make thematic sense.

 

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I also created ‘I Waited’ in response to the loneliest bench in Blackpool. A man stands looking out to sea but all that is left is his shadow. A work about love lost, anticipated or unreciprocated (depending on your viewpoint).

I was so pleased with the public response to both works, to create something that made visitors look at the often overlooked spaces anew.

 

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I met with lighting company, Megaman, to discuss my journey into becoming a light artist. They published the interview here.

I ended the year with a new work, well, a continuation of an old work that I’ve picked back up for further development. I created a Moon Book (from my Sun and Moon Book series – more to come later). The poem ‘In the wisdom of moonlight/ Nothing stays the same’ is revealed by the transient light of the full moon. I took a timelapse of the moonlight poem being projected by the light from the December 2016 super moon and created a GIF out of it. The words fade in and out and shift across the floor as the moon moves across the sky and clouds pass over – activating the poem’s transient meaning. The GIF is a never-ending loop of this timelapse to represent the constant and cyclical nature of the moon’s phases:

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The GIF doesn’t embed so here’s the video to show the same effect (but not on never-ending loop I’m afraid!)

 

 

This year has been full of variety, which is just what I enjoy in my work. I’ve learned new things, met many new people and been so pleased with the reception to the artwork I’ve created and curated. Plans are starting to shape up for 2017 and I’m excited to see what it will bring! Happy new year!

 

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I will be exhibiting two new commissions at this year’s Enlighten Manchester Festival of Light and Sound Art 2015.

Last year’s festival was held in Piccadilly Gardens and I was fortunate to have the famous Tadao Ando concrete wall as my site to respond to. The work ‘A Solid Wish Scatters’ was named as a public favourite in Mondo*Arc Magazine.

A Solid Wish Scatters. Photo credit J.Lynch.

Last year’s piece – A Solid Wish Scatters. Photo credit J.Lynch.

This year, the festival has changed site to Manchester Central Library and the Bridgewater Hall and is mainly indoors. However, I have been given another prominent outdoor site to respond to: the Manchester Central Library benches that surround the building. ‘The Stories Under Our Feet‘ are ephemeral light and text artworks trimming the edges of the benches. Short observational poems drawing on changing weather and seasons to create moments of contemplation for people walking by or sitting on the benches.

I have also created an indoor work, ‘Lost and Found‘: understated light and reflection pieces activated by the viewer. Passers by interrupt the reflection to become either ‘lost’ ,‘found’ or sometimes both to highlight the search for sense of self and connection between people.

Also on show will be pictures produced in the special creative writing and light art public workshops I ran at the library during October.

The festival runs in the late afternoon/evenings of Thursday 10th – Saturday 12th December and free tickets can be booked online.

 

 

 

Really pleased to have been featured in an article about the thriving cultural arts scene in Manchester in the Saatchi Art and Music North issue.

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Saatchi 2015 front cover

The featured work was for 2014 Enlighten Manchester Festival of Light Art. It’s called ‘A Solid Wish Scatters’ and was installed in Manchester Piccadilly Gardens. The earthly presence of the blocks scatter into an ephemeral light piece on the concrete wall to show all that is solid is still fragile and all that is perceived to be permanent never will be. Read more about the work here.

I will be exhibiting in this year’s Enlighten Manchester 10th-12th December, showing ‘The Stories Under Our Feet’ around the benches of Manchester Central Library and ‘Lost and Found’ within the library itself. For more information and to book free tickets to the festival visit the Enlighten Manchester website. These works have been created with the support of Arts Council England.

 

 

 

Manifest Arts Festival 2015

December 3, 2015

Manifest Poster

Manifest Poster

This July Roger Bygott, John Lynch, and I directed a city-wide (Manchester and Salford) visual arts festival:

Manifest is a visual arts festival, showcasing the talent of North West based artists in a series of exhibitions and events across Manchester and Salford.

It took place 10th-12th July 2015 and during the second weekend of the busy Manchester International Festival. The timing was deliberate so that the festival would give visitors a flavour of the creative activity going on across the two cities all year round.

The exhibitions and events in the Manifest programme were at some of Manchester’s most prestigious institutions, such as Manchester Craft and Design Centre, John Ryland’s Library, and the newly opened HOME. Artist studios across both cities were coordinated for the first time to have open studios during the festival weekend to give a closer look at the scope of art being created across the city.

This year was a pilot festival and run on the passion of its participants, and we’re so thankful for the enthusiasm and support in making it happen. We couldn’t have been more pleased by the reaction of visitors and participating artists.

Our reasons for setting up Manifest:

Roger Bygott: For me the inspiration and spirit of Manifest is about community association, trusting grassroots links and mutual encouragement. As artists practicing within this broad vibrant community we aim to help strengthen those connections and to share more widely and publicly the artistic fruits emerging from it.”

Elisa Artesero: “Many of the artists in Manifest exhibit nationally and internationally but remain based in the North West. We want to show the high standard of contemporary art being produced on our doorstop.”

John Lynch: “Artists want their work to be seen, we present the opportunity to see it.”

We even got a feature interview in a-n

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The festival was a huge success in more ways than we’d expected and we’re still receiving positive feedback about the impact it has had on participating artists’ careers. During the three days and nearly 30 different events/exhibitions artists: sold their work, had in-depth critiques with curators, they gained commissions and potential exhibitions, and were able to show their work to an audience that would not have had the opportunity to see their work otherwise.

Months down the line we got an email from Susan Gunn, one of the artists to present her work at ‘Manifest Calling’ a show and tell at HOME. She had been contacted by contemporary classical composer, Ailis Ni Riain, who was impressed by her work when she presented it at ‘Manifest Calling’, and asked if she would design the album cover for her album ‘Linger’.

The pilot festival gave us a chance to just give it a go, to test the idea of the festival and to see if it would be possible to run. The three of us had an incredibly busy weekend trying to document all the events and ensure they were running as planned. My pet project for the weekend was to try out live streaming the festival with the Periscope app to give online viewers a flavour of parts of the festival. I didn’t know how useful or popular this would be, but it turned out to be surprisingly popular, getting up to 70 live views at a time. Not bad for a fairly new piece of technology and first festival!

We ended with a closing party at media bar, Texture, which was a lovely celebration of the weekend. One of the joys for me (and I’m sure Roger and John, also) was to spend an entire weekend looking around the cities’ arts spaces, seeing fantastic contemporary artwork, having lively conversations about the artistic and cultural scene and the lives and exciting careers of those who are based here.

Although, admittedly, there was almost too much to be able to get around in one weekend, it was brilliant to have it all there to choose from, a snapshot of the kind of things that are going on (often behind closed doors of studios) all year round. To able to facilitate that in some way was an absolute pleasure, and I think we proved what we set out to do – which was to show that we live in a vibrant and thriving cultural space that needs to be showcased every so often.

As for the future of Manifest, well, watch this space.

Manifest Logo

Manifest Logo

 

All photos taken by John Lynch, and the logo and programme designed by the talented Stephanie Hamer. 

http://elisaartesero.com/a-solid-wish-scatters

Mondo*Arc Article

I recently exhibited my Arts Council England Supported work, A Solid Wish Scatters at the Enlighten Manchester Festival. It received really good feedback and I’ve just found out that the festival has been featured in leading Lighting Design magazine Mondo*Arc. My work is quoted as a ‘public favourite’ which I’m obviously really pleased about! See the full article on page 100 of the digital edition here.

I interviewed Chris Lowe, Senior Lighting Designer at international architectural firm, BDP. We talked about his work as a lighting designer, his love of Tungsten lamps and guerrilla lighting, all published in The Double Negative. View the full article here.

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Castlefield Gallery at the Manchester Contemporary

Castlefield Gallery at the Manchester Contemporary

I recently completed an internship with Castlefield Gallery. The gallery invited me to work with them at this year’s Manchester Contemporary, a large art fair which showcases numerous well-respected galleries. It was an opportunity too good to miss and I was delighted to be asked.

Castlefield Gallery is a vibrant cultural hub of Manchester, it has been going since the 1980s and prides itself on continuing to support emerging artists, as well as showcasing national and international artists. The gallery recently, and rather controversially, lost its Arts Council funding and was put in the difficult position of having to re-think its business model and way of working. The gallery faced the challenge and has come up with new plans, yet has maintained its cultural ethics and continues to support artists from the North West and beyond. It also raised an unprecedented £33,000 in an auction of artworks donated by artists it has supported, and bought by patrons of the arts who did not want to see such an important cultural centre in Manchester disappear. I think this demonstrates not only the robust nature of the organisation, but also the cultural sensibilities of the society in and around Manchester, one which recognises its assets and fights to save them.

This leads me onto the internship experience. I learned much about about representing the gallery at the Manchester Contemporary (all of which was very useful to me), but instead of listing this here, I will merely offer an observation about the function of the galleries and cultural organisations that were represented. Each and every gallery I encountered, whether they were new or more established, were supportive to each other. They were open and interested in discussing their artists and the general cultural concerns facing arts’ organisations today. This was also supported by an interesting programme of talks by the galleries and organisations, well attended by those visiting the Contemporary.

Jumping forward a couple of months, I attended a panel discussion about the future of the arts in the North. This was held at the Whitworth Art Gallery and was in aid of the complete bound edition of Issue 3 of Corridor8, an extremely insightful journal currently focused on art in the North. Presentations were given by the Workplace Gallery in Gateshead, Project Space Leeds, Ian Rawlinson (artist and academic based in Manchester) and Maria Balshaw, the Director of the Whitworth and Manchester City Art Gallery.

Each of the presentations gave a view of the North as a thriving place for artistic development and the positive plans for now and well into the future. One thing which was addressed was the comparison to the art institutions in the South of England, and the differences and challenges faced by those in the North. What quite clearly came through was that not only is the North flourishing with the artistic talent it produces, but it is also fully connected with the ‘art world’ as a whole. This can be highlighted by the commercial success of the Workplace Gallery, and the critical acclaim reached on a world stage by the Manchester International Festival. Despite these achievements, Maria Balshaw made an interesting point about the flexible nature of working here, that it is possible to take huge risks which might not be conceivable elsewhere; and that the North should not focus on growing bigger, but only more interesting.

As this panel discussion went on in front of a packed audience, there were numerous other art openings and events around the city. These included Castlefield Gallery’s “Tatoo City” and the residency at the newly formed Lionel Dobie Project, a place which supports  emerging curators; along with many other events too extensive to list fully. It was not possible for me to get to all of these, but to be able to have the choice on a cold Thursday evening in late November, shows that there is a lot going on, and it certainly isn’t showing signs of slowing.

For more articles about events, exhibitions, talks etc. please browse the rest of my blog.

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It’s not often that I feel compelled to quote an article on this blog, but I’ve been thinking about the funding cuts to the arts recently. I fervently believe in funding the arts, so many great things are made, opportunities created. I feel that good art is good for your health, I don’t always know why it is ‘good’ but if it brings me some sort of joy or makes me think about something which is hard to express in other ways, then I feel it is serving a purpose. It is often difficult to then argue for the arts when someone poses the rather crass either/or question of would you rather pay for NHS equipment or buy a painting for a gallery? Of course you would want to save a life; however I think that Grant Gibson‘s editorial in this May/June issue of Crafts Magazine is rather a succinct rebuttal to this question as he points towards the importance of cultural identity through art:

The truth of the matter is, set against the backdrop of human tragedy (both micro and macro), the arts may well appear insignificant, but they are more than mere frippery. For proof I generally point people in the direction of The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War, the brilliant book by Robert Bevan that vividly illustrates how the eradication of architecture and culture has been used over history to gut a nation’s identity – from the Romans razing Carthage and Hitler’s burning of the synagogues to contemporary atrocities. As the Czech author Milan Kundera wrote: “The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then you have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was.”

I don’t intend to discuss the rights and wrongs of Arts Council England‘s funding strategy here, but merely to point out that the arts (and crafts) genuinely matter and must be nurtured like any other sector of society.

I know there are many facets to this argument, I just thought this was a valid point made and worth repeating.

I recommend giving Crafts Magazine a read to any contemporary artist. I have found many an inspiring piece of work within this publication, not only that, I have been informed of interesting new materials and technologies that the more traditional fine art magazines do not normally address.