Form and Expression in 2018

December 31, 2018

The year runs on apace and sometimes it’s only when you pause for breath at the end of it when you can really see and assess what’s happened. 2018 has had many new challenges to it, some I’d planned for, and others came along and I just had to rise to them. All in all, it’s been pretty exciting!

I started the year with a continuation of my AA2A Residency at Sheffield Hallam University I’d started back in October of 2017. Here I had access to some marvellous facilities and equipment to experiment and develop ideas and works for new work and interests, which are spaces for dancers.

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At the same time as working at the University, I had developed a relationship with the Arden School of Dance and Theatre in Manchester and we had decided to collaborate on a site specific dance performance around my DREAMERS letters for a one off public performance. We applied for Arts Council England funding, and unfortunately were unsuccessful, but made the decision to go ahead and produce the show anyway. Fantastic sound artist and producer, Caro C (who I worked with several years before on a collaboration in the Yorkshire Dales), came on board to create an entirely new musical score for the piece, making it a truly original dance production. I took on multiple roles to create the overall creative concept, show production, promotion, and design and implement the lighting design. We had 10 dancers, choreographer Belinda Grantham, director Graham Hicks, and two fab technicians – it was a pretty large production even if we were producing it on a shoestring!

 

Dreamers Dance JLsmall1

The performance was set in the industrial setting of artist studios, ArtWork Atelier in Salford and arranged to take place at twilight so that the natural changing light would work with my lighting design. Twilight is a mystical time of the day, and was used to lead the audience through from the ‘real’ to the dream world, a dance in the liminal space of twilight to the edge of night. It was a magical performance and we had a full house of around 50 people in the audience. I’m so pleased we did it as it was such a delight to try my hand at a new type of working and to see my ideas manifest into the show with great audience feedback. I will write a more in depth post about the process and link to it here when I do.

Garden Aesthetica Pize Longlist SQAURE

I was fortunate to be selected for the long list of the international Aesthetica Art Prize for sculpture and 3D work with my piece The Garden of Floating Words.

Manifest Arts Logo

2018 was also the year that together with fellow co-directors of my other project, Manifest Arts Festival, decided to become a registered CIC to enable us to grow as a company in what we can do and how we’d like to develop. So, Manifest Arts CIC was formed to support and promote the contemporary visual arts in the North West through projects and a biennial festival across Manchester, Salford, Bolton and Altrincham. We later held a meeting with the artist studio and project representatives to discuss the future of Manifest Arts Festival and gain support for the 2019 festival. We were so pleased to receive such a huge amount of support for the project and desire to be involved to help it grow. Next year’s festival will be the biggest yet!

In the early summer I was commissioned by Broadgate London to produce an entirely new body of artwork for a solo exhibition in central London in September. This was to be text based work only, to coincide with the London Design Festival. The exhibition was called Building Text and took the architectural details of the Broadgate site to create a body of text-based work which encompassed sculpture, graphic design, poetry and installation and sensitively curated by Rosie Glenn.

It was an amazing experience, but also a challenging one as I created all new work in just under three months to fill three buildings! I also gave myself the challenge of creating new styles of work, such as the eight Perspex sculptures designed with a slotting system to fit together without the need for glue – which posed design and technical challenges I could barely have predicted when I first set out to do it. I was fortunate because I had been given an extension on my residency in Sheffield so had access to the laser cutters to develop and test the work. It all turned out so well and I think the short timeframe really pushed my creativity to produce some of my best work. I talk more about the exhibition here.

Also in the summer I moved studios as ArtWork Atelier had been given notice that it would be knocked down to be developed on. This was an added stress to an already busy time and there was not an immediately obvious option for a new space to move to. As is the case with many things in life, something came up in the end, and a fellow studio member, Sean McGrath, signed a lease at Wellington House in Ancoats to develop a new set of artist studios, Wellington Studios. So, I and my studio friends were able to find a new artistic home. It was sad to leave ArtWork Atelier, as I had many good memories from it and it was in a fantastic location, but things in life and work change and move, and by the end it felt like a natural time to start somewhere new.

Marigold Wishes1web

I also went to Spain to develop work, poetry, and photography. It really gave me time and space to develop my thoughts and try out some new work, some of which was exhibited in the Building Text solo show, and even more that is waiting for another opportunity to be developed at a later date.

In September, while my solo exhibition was going along nicely, I obtained a new commission, In&Out of Hospital, at the Stroke Pathway Assessment Centre (SPARC) in Sheffield to deliver a year long programme of creative workshops to patients in the centre, and to develop and produce a new permanent artwork for the centre. So far I have delivered my first set of workshops. It’s been a new challenge for me because, even though I have spent five years developing creative work for stroke survivors, this is the first time I have been in a more clinical setting at a more acute stage of patient’s rehabilitation. However, I’ve used my skills to develop work that I feel is appropriate for patients at this stage and have so far been receiving positive feedback and results. Working in this way has really cemented my desire to do more arts and health work in the future, the benefits are so clear to me that I feel I must promote it as much as I can.

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Students work at Sheffield Hallam University

At more or less the same time as starting my work at SPARC, I was invited to be an Associate Lecturer for Interior Architecture and Design at Sheffield Hallam University. Each week I would develop and deliver a lecture on various different topics together with creative tasks and challenges for the students. It was an exciting new role for me to undertake. I have given artist talks and delivered workshops before, but had not lectured to university students before. I took my professional experiences and applied them to my lectures to give relevant and applicable advice to the students and their creative development as future interior architects. I was so impressed with the range and level of creativity by the students when responding to my tasks, I really found it an enjoyable experience to teach.

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In the autumn/winter I had an article written about my by Karis Lambert here, and in the printed press I was delighted to have a five page spread in the wonderful magazine Actual Size. It’s a quarterly magazine so you can still get it at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and all good independent book shops.

To end the year I had one more big step to complete. I had been awarded a professional development grant from a-n to form my own limited company. So while all of this was going on, I was beavering away in the background researching how to start a business, listening to podcasts, interviewing other creative women in business, developing a business plan and finding an accountant. In December, when I’d done all my research, I made the step to form the company, Studio Elisa Artesero Ltd. It was incorporated on the 21st of December, the Winter Solstice, a poignant time considering much of my work is to do with light and shadow, and I’m really happy that was it’s day of incorporation.

So, 2018 has been a busy, challenging, fulfilling, and exciting year. Thank you to all my collaborators and colleagues for your part in all of these achievements. As I look forward to 2019 there look to be new challenges and creative possibilities on the horizon. It’s just the beginning…

Best wishes for the new year ahead!

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Dreamers Dance

April 13, 2018

Dreamers Dance is a premiere of an ambitious, experimental, installation dance performance at ArtWork Atelier, Salford, Thursday 19th April at 8.45pm (performance start time, please arrive at least 15 minutes before).

Taking place at twilight to take us from the ‘real’ to the dream world, this one-night only performance brings together light and text artist Elisa Artesero, electronic music producer Caro C, choreographer Belinda Grantham, director Graham Hicks and dancers from UCEN.

Set around Artesero’s large-scale installation DREAMERS in the industrial setting of artist studios, ArtWork Atelier in Salford, a small selection of viewers will be taken through from sleep into dream, a dance in the liminal space of twilight to the edge of night.

Artesero has designed the production to work with the fading twilight in her lighting design, with a new musical score produced by Caro C supporting the original choreography by Grantham, Hicks, and the 10 young dancers.

This is a FREE event, but spaces are limited, so booking is essential https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/venue/FKDLMF

Note the main performance is at 8.45pm to work together with the fading twilight, the 7pm option is mainly for students or others who cannot make the main performance. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before for a short introduction and to ensure everyone is in place for a prompt start.

Access: The site-specific nature of this performance, in a building set for demolition, means that it is not fully accessible to wheelchair users. Stairs access the top floor space, and unfortunately there is no passenger lift.

Here’s a little teaser video with some of Caro’s music:

Nature, Skin and Bones

August 3, 2016

Here’s a short video about a new collaborative project I’m involved in. I’m working together with a sculptor (Sarah Smith) and sound artist (Caro C) to create an immersive installation in the Dales Countryside Museum. It’s a new experience for me as I have not collaborated in this way before. The process and the collaboration has led to the work being rather different to the more minimal style I’m used to creating in my solo installation pieces, particularly as the sculptural elements are being made by another artist and there is the added element of an immersive soundscape. I’m looking forward to the final install early October, more updates closer to the time!

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. 

Art of Youth Group Photo

Art of Youth Group Photo

I was recently selected as a UK artist representative for the Youth in Action, Art of Youth European Commission programme held in Montenegro.

The programme brought together participants from across Europe to learn about different contemporary art practices, European Citizenship, and to create collaborative pieces of artwork to be exhibited in the open air amphitheatre in Old Bar, Montenegro.

One of the things that took me, and the other three artists from the UK and Ireland, by surprise was that not all the participants were professional artists. From the selection process we had been through here, we thought it was a prerequisite. In fact, the participants from the other European countries (mainly from the Balkans) were from many different disciplines. Some were studying and others were professionals in fields such as architecture, computer science, cognitive science, art history, graphic design, law, and youth work. This turned out to be a wonderful mix, revealing knowledge, skills and different perspectives that might not have been present had the whole group been full of fine artists. It worked for lively and interesting debate about the topics concerning European Citizenship and the politics affecting each country and collectively.

The training part of the course took the form of lectures about contemporary arts practice and seminars about sense of place and European Citizenship. Details of these and the structure of the programme can be found on the blog set up by Ion Creative’s Nancy Barrett: Same Difference.

I’m still reflecting on the full experience of my time in Montenegro and the people that I met. I came away with a feeling of such happiness with the experience, the group had gelled so well, and considering we had many strong, vibrant characters among us, there was never any conflict, just sharing and understanding.

I learnt much about the different customs in each country and the passion everyone had about keeping their own national customs and identity, but also being part of the European Union as a whole, and that this was never viewed as a dichotomy.

I’m writing this on the day of the European elections with many anti-EU parties campaigning to take the UK out of the EU, precisely because they feel the UK is somehow restricted, our culture threatened and at a disadvantage by being in the EU. The main topic that came up in the Youth in Action programme was the freedom of movement, exchange of ideas and cultural experiences that being part of the EU could afford us all. To restrict that again, in my view, is to take the UK backwards, cutting off the nose to spite the face.

Unity sunlight

Unity sunlight

The group I worked with were keen to learn about using light as an art form, and so we made two pieces of work, the first a sunlight performance piece, and the second a night-time light photography made one evening on the beach with us all running around with torches probably looking possessed to any passers-by who wouldn’t necessarily realise that we were ‘drawing with light’ to 15 second exposures.

Unity

Unity is a two-part piece of work. The first is a performance using sunlight and mirrors. Five people transmit a beam of sunlight to each other in a star pattern, finally reflecting the word ‘unity’ onto the ground of the space. The unified action shows the positive effects of collaboration and understanding between EU countries. The second part is night-time light photography which addresses differences and obstacles faced through lack of understanding and knowledge of other countries. The result is a highly stylised and abstract interpretation of these issues.

Artists: Elisa Artesero Danijela Kojic Aleksandar Dragas Marta Garcevic Natasha Jordanova Genc Hani

Other pieces of work were dancing and painting performances, installations, stop motion animation and Christo-inspired tree-wrapping.

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There were many other facets to this experience; for instance the intercultural nights, where we were introduced to the strangely popular musical genre of “Turbofolk” in the Balkans, awesome fast-food pastry dish of Burek, the fact that Bulgarians nod when they mean ‘no’ and shake their heads when they say ‘yes’, and some great ska and punk from Croatia. We also ate a lot of Montenegrin cheese. A lot of cheese.

A wonderful experience that I’ll cherish for many years.

 

Light Night Leeds 2012

October 12, 2012

We made the short hop across into Yorkshire for the Leeds Light Night last week. An evening of activities, exhibitions, installations, films and general liveliness which took place well into the dark of night across the city. The map of events was full of things to see and do, far too many for us to get around them all, so we planned some activities and stumbled across others while en route.

I was keen to visit Leeds City Art Gallery‘s ‘Drawing Sculpture‘ exhibition, which displayed work which presented a link between the act of drawing and creating sculpture. It was an interesting exhibition, supported well by the accompanying essay by Anna Lovatt in the exhibition catalogue. However, before we even stepped foot into the grand gallery building we came across a group of Indian musicians and dancers playing outside the entrance, drawing a crowd of visitors keen to have a go. At one point, when there must have been at least 100 people dancing, it felt as if we had stepped into a peculiar new type of exercise class with everyone following the moves of the main dancers.

After an autumnal soup break in the decadent tiled cafe, we put our names down for some light painting with artist David Shearing. We timed it perfectly as it was particularly popular and they had to stop admitting visitors shortly after our turn. Armed with a plethora of glowing toys we created some light drawings via projection and computer software, which mimicked the action of light painting on a camera with the shutter left open for a few seconds. Our effort wasn’t the most artistically thought out, but it was fun nonetheless!

We exited through the inflatable dome, squeezing out of the tunnel like Ace Ventura out of the Rhino’s backside. Fun, yes. Flattering, no. There was no time for embarrassment however, as we ran (responsibly) through the gallery to the showing of ‘Turning at Right Angles to Midnight’ by Andi Noble and Matt Collins. It was a beautiful glimmering delight of sound and lights.

Other highlights of the evening were the video and animation projections strewn across the walls all over the Leeds College of Art building, showcasing some exquisite talent from the young artists. Ending the evening we came across some ladies dressed in some strange attire, looking rather like beautiful zombies who were on their way home. We stopped to ask what they had been doing that evening and they told us that they were singing as they are an a cappella quartet and offered to sing us a song! They did so, and by the end of it we found that a crowd had joined us in bopping about to their smooth, smooth sound. The perfect goodbye and end to the evening.

I will be exhibiting a piece of light art  as part of the Haecceity Project at Nouvel Organon Gallery, Paris 13th-16th July 2012. I’m really excited to be part of this project, which has already had international press coverage as far as Mexico in newspaper, Excelsior. The exhibition features work from a range of international artists, under the theme of ‘the visual image and literature’. Not only this, but over the weekend there will be live music and drinks, with other activities being planned as I write. So, if you’re in Paris next weekend, please do come along! Go to the Haecceity Project website for more details.

Still from ‘Dirty Heart’

The Hologram Heart Parade video I made for their single ‘Dirty Heart’ has been included in the 90-minute documentary on the new Manchester music scene ‘Manchester: Beyond Oasis’. Directed by Brett Gregory and produced by Serious Feather the documentary can be viewed in full here.

Fieldtrip Mushrooms

March 3, 2012

This is a video exploring a light sculpture I made recently. I then edited it to Boxcutter’s tune ‘Fieldtrip’.

Luminous Man Film

January 6, 2012

A while ago I posted about my luminous man which I showed as part of my final exhibition last year. I was going to work on music for the currently silent film over the summer, but a large project took up most of my time so I didn’t get to do this. I am not a musician so it’s unlikely I’ll make something completely appropriate for his creepy morphing dance; so if you make music and feel you’d like to submit some for the film then I’d love to hear it! My personal tastes tend to lean towards electronic music of the Venetian Snares/Four Tet/Aphex Twin variety, however I’m open to different styles as you never know what will fit best in the end. So please do get in touch, post links to YouTube/Soundcloud pages etc.