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!

 

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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.

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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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Dreaming 2017

January 2, 2018

Tonight We Dream by Elisa Artesero, 2017 (photo credit Nikolas Grabar)

2017 – another trying and turbulent year politically and globally. Reflecting on my own artistic projects however, it’s been a richly rewarding, varied and interesting year. Here’s my overview:

The Garden of Floating Words, Elisa Artesero 2017 (photo credit Stephen Iles)

The year got off to a fantastic start with my commission for the Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival in London. The Garden of Floating Words is a cluster of glowing neon words forming a poem that appears to be floating in the dark amongst the foliage of Jubilee Gardens. I was overwhelmed by the positive public response. So many people stopped to contemplate the poem, and take pictures which were shared across social media. I also created my ‘Dreaming Bench’ as a little extra – this was almost as popular as the main work! Surprising, as it was something people had to find, but find it they did!

Dreaming Bench, Elisa Artesero 2017 (photo credit Stephen Iles)

In February I travelled to Iceland! There, I created mountainside projection piece ‘Tonight We Dream’ at List i Ljosi Festival in Seydisfjordur, East Iceland. I was so inspired by the place that  I wrote new poetry and projected it at other locations around the town, some static projections on houses, others temporary pop up poems on a walk around the town with a portable projector. I also visited Reykjavik the days that it had the most snowfall in over 60 years – it was a truly magical experience!

Tonight We Dream, Elisa Artesero

Snowflake, Elisa Artesero 2017

I had two artist retreats to the province of Burgos in Northern Spain to a little hideaway in the mountains; once in Spring and another in Autumn. This is part of some ongoing development work, here’s a couple of preview pictures that don’t give too much away!

More Shadow Than Form, Elisa Artesero, 2017

Sunlight on Chair, Elisa Artesero 2017

In July, together with colleagues and fellow artists, John Lynch and Roger Bygott, we ran the second biennial Manifest Arts Festival! This year we were delighted to have the support of Arts Council England with one of their Grants for the Arts. We showcased over 250 artists in open studios, events and exhibitions for 5 FULL days across venues in Manchester, Salford and Bolton. This was a particular highlight of the year as it was a fantastic celebration of the arts scene in the region and we were so pleased to be able to pull it all together. Watch the video below!

Manifest Arts Logo

 

Another fantastic project that I was involved in was my continued work with The Stroke Association and University of Manchester. For this project I devised and delivered a series of art workshops for stroke survivors and medical students. More on the work in this article. Also here’s the video that explains what happened and shows some of the workshops in action!

 

This year was quite a year of travel, together with my trips to Spain and Iceland, I also went to Eindhoven in Holland, and Berlin in Germany – places I hadn’t visited previously, so it was inspiring to see the arts being produced there.

In September I was honoured to be shortlisted for Best Light Art at the Darc Awards for The Garden of Floating Words!

 

Ending the year, and continuing on into 2018, I am on the AA2A Artist Residency at Sheffield Hallam University. Here I’ll be doing some development work around spacial themes and have been placed within the Interior Design section for the duration. I look forward to revealing more as I make it!

So, there’s an overview of what I’ve been up to throughout 2017! I can’t wait for the exciting things 2018 has to offer. Thank you to all of my collaborators, commissioners, grants givers and supporters throughout the year, it’s thanks to you that I can continue to make my artwork. Happy New Year!

 

 

Throughout 2015 I worked on a project with stroke survivors. I ran a set of visual arts workshops and curated the final exhibitions: one at Manchester Central Library, and the other at Manchester Museum. It was a wonderful experience and I feel privileged to have been through the process to help facilitate some of the workshops and to be able to curate the final exhibitions to help to tell these survivors’ stories.

About the project:

The Stroke Association and The University of Manchester ran creative workshops with 15 stroke survivors across a 9-month period in 2015. These focused on creative writing, visual arts and photography. The interactive workshops brought together stroke survivors, artists, filmmakers, clinicians, researchers and students from the University of Manchester and Salford Royal hospital.

Personal and collective stories of life before and after a stroke are told through the survivors’ artistic interpretations. Many of the survivors were shown the brain scan of their stroke. They were talked through their individual scans by leading stroke consultant, Professor Pippa Tyrell and NIHR Clinician Scientist Dr Adrian Parry-Jones, who explained the areas of the brain that were affected by the stroke and answered any questions they had. This was often an emotional moment and many of the survivors used this experience to create artistic responses and explore their feelings towards the journey from having a stroke to the lives they now live.

The Manchester Central Library exhibition, as part of The Manchester Science Festival, gave a more personal insight into a complex and often devastating condition. It is, however, also to show that there is potential for an enriching and positive life after stroke.

The pop-up exhibition and mask-making workshop at Manchester Museum on World Stroke Day was as a result of a special workshop I led during the project. Participants were given a tour of the Museum’s mask collection then they were given coloured tissue paper, glue and scissors to create masks that would reflect different emotions. Masks were made to represent or cover up emotions and also to promote positive emotions.

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With thanks to the survivors who created these personal and expressive pieces of artwork:

Peter Osbourne, Keila Moore, Peter Wright, Raymond Garner, Paul Edgerton, Mary Davis, Janette Kirkham, Debbie Concagh, Mark Pizey, George Shone, Janet Stoppard, Carol Banks, Ann Williams, Michaela Holden, Graeme Snell

Also many thanks to the other workshop leaders – Caroline Edge for photography, and Janet Rogerson for creative writing. Special thanks to Joyce Booth and the volunteers from the Stroke Association for helping to coordinate and facilitate all of the workshops, and to Dr Stephanie Snow, who has led the project and is using this as research for her work on documenting the History of Stroke.

A video of the project:

 

IA13 Degree Show

July 31, 2013

End of degree number two! I was lucky to have three pieces in the show; two in the main Interactive Arts show, and one specially commissioned piece by the Manchester School of Art for the roof terrace on the new building.

This year I used Zen poetry as my main influence because its philosophy of constantly asserting the transience of our existence is something I wanted from my artwork. I feel that light has this transient quality through its visibility and invisibility which could then be used to visually activate the meaning of the poetry. With this in mind, I defined my project as creating a modern Zen scroll.

Sun Scroll at midday

Sun Scroll at midday

‘Sun Scroll’ is a Zen poem revealed by sunlight. It addresses themes of transience, emphasised by the transient sunlight. The projected words appear differently throughout the day and year depending on the angle of the sun.

'Leap And The Net Will Appear'

‘Leap And The Net Will Appear’

‘Leap and the net will appear’ is a Zen saying that I appropriated into a piece of text art activated by light. You know the light’s path but you can’t see it all, requiring you to trust in the leap to the text.

'Sun Bowls' on display

‘Sun Bowls’ on display

The ‘Sun Bowls’ contain extracts from Zen poems that refer to a transience of existence echoed in the use of glass and light to illuminate the words. The shifting lighting conditions within a room changes the visibility of the words – sometimes readable from above, others from the projection onto the surface below, and occasionally not at all. The bowls are intended to be lived with and viewed over a period of time, becoming part of the owner’s personal context and place.

'Sun Bowl' in the home

‘Sun Bowl’ in the home

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A ball hangs in the corner of a room in Magritte’s painting ‘The Secret Life’ (1928) recently shown at the Tate Liverpool exhibition. The spherical ‘thing’ appears to be in a state of being/existing in the space, whether we are there to view it or not. Although it was hung in a room full of people, I felt as if it was very much alone and I had intruded on its quiet existence, like coming across a ghost. This was the starting point and inspiration for this exhibition. The work on show is varied to say the least, but within each piece there are intriguing characters within dreamlike or surreal situations.

Starting with my own work ‘Phantom’, the sculpture is the conduit for the light phantom, giving the ephemeral being a place to exist and become whole as the light passes through the layers of fabric. Roger Bygott uses light trails in his film ‘The Photographer’; he came across the anonymous photographer while walking in North Wales and filmed the man absorbed in his own world, conjured up as if part of a dream. James Ackerley’s ‘A Brief Memento of an Intangible Dreamscape’ could almost have come from the place Roger filmed his photographer and is presented as a surreal souvenir.

The middle hexagon holds the eerie photos of Anna Heaton’s twins, blankly staring out of the picture. Matthew Barber’s photos, ‘Stranger Danger’ are based on the fear of walking home at night and how the mind plays tricks on you. The photos are similar and their repetition and placement is to make the viewer look twice at each to see the differences, to pick out where the man in the picture has moved to next. These photos frame Karol Kochanowski’s ‘Self Portrait with Elephant’, an absurd situation in a beautiful landscape to symbolize the burden of everyday life, and his ‘Breadcycle’ a piece exhibited two years ago as part of his Foundation course, which has changed with him over the years.

John Brindley’s ‘Echoes’ and Caroline Whitemore’s surreal paintings use doors and pathways as symbols in their work, which I have placed together as quite literally the doorways to the next section of the exhibition within the Foyer.

Amy Lawrence’s piece ‘Mushroom’ shows a woman pregnant with thought and imagination. Helen Wheeler’s etchings create an intangible dreamscape. Both artists invite the viewer to make their own interpretation of their work, however I feel that they are both reflective of the artists themselves, Amy’s imagination literally growing from the image, and Helen’s layered with depth of meaning.

The show reel of films from Liam Healy (‘Pray’), Fabian Beickhorasani (‘Signon’) and Exposure’s nominee Michael Scott (‘Alice in Space’ and ‘Tastes Better’) are set on two projectors to continue the ‘look again’ theme of doubles running through the exhibition and to wonder why the images are not quite the same.

Finally, there are two very different boxes which can be entered into, one is Roger Bygott’s ‘Shaman’, an ambiguous character who is difficult to decipher, keep an eye out for him as he may be in and available to give divinations, or his spirit could be left guarding his home. The other box is Robert Grundstrom’s ‘Cubicle No.2’ the dark part of the psyche which can be entered into at your own risk.

Many thanks to Roger Bygott and Paul Tutty for their help in setting up the exhibition, and to the participating artists whose work was a pleasure to curate.

Elisa Artesero

Curator

It’s the end of the year show for first year Interactive Arts students from 9th – 13th May. I have put up prints of some of my Creeping Light and City Lights prints and a silent film of my Luminous Man.

For fuller details and more pictures of the exhibition as a whole, go to the Link Gallery blog.

Luminous Man

May 2, 2011

Here is my Luminous Man projected onto a wall. I filmed him before my Creeping Light series but hadn’t got round to doing much with him, he just appeared one day during my initial light film tests and started to dance in front of the camera, swirling around and morphing into different shaped luminous men. He’s a mystical being and has a life of his own even though I technically ‘created’ him. I intend to show the film at my next assessment exhibition, it doesn’t have sound at the moment, but this is something I will work on over the summer.

I have used the still of the luminous man to draw over and to use as a motif over other work – painting, collage and furniture. I think he’s going to become a bit of a muse to me this summer as I develop work around him; I may even get my writing skills back into gear and write a story about him as he fascinates me!

In memory of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Manchester School of Art students went out onto the moors just over Glossop to attempt to fly some kites or similar contraptions. These moors were the very same moors Wittgenstein went as a young man to fly various chemicals at different altitudes in his own home-made kites when he worked as an assistant to science students studying the chemicals properties. The kites for this project were not really to do with his scientific work, but more to be used as a symbol for his philosophical thinking, the flight of the mind, imagination – all of which we are exploring as artists.

My own kite was a mini version of a traditional kite shape, I made it from acetate to withstand the moors’ wind, rather than just tissue paper which I’ve seen other small kites made out of. It did have a beautiful purple tail to but, alas, this came off in my bag. It was quite a lucky thing however, as normally the tail stabilises the kite as it flies, but without it the kite was able to dance around in the wind with a life of its own! Many people tried to capture its dance on film or in photos but most of the time it bounced out of shot, there was only once when I managed to capture it for any real length of time as you can see from the video below.

What happened that day on the moors will be blogged about by many, but the whole experience can never fully be captured. I’m sure that this little dancing kite and it’s reluctance to be captured on film signifies much of what was trying to be achieved; but between the laughter and general mirth of the whole day, I think I’ll avoid labouring the point…

Blue Link Exhibition

April 5, 2011

The Blue Link Exhibition opened last night, all the work put into it certainly paid off as there was a great turn out and lots of good feedback. The exhibition continues until Friday 8th April.

My inspiration for the Blue Link was a desire to cover the gallery space with work of one dominant colour theme to make a visually impacting exhibition. The work is a range of submissions from across the faculty and although together in a colour theme, the individual style of each artist creates a varied and interesting collection.

The foyer space contains work which is primarily of a ‘real’ or physical nature progressing to more abstract pieces within the Link itself. Each artwork has been positioned in a particular order to pick out similarities in theme, colour, size or pattern.

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The Blue Link Exhibition is the final exhibition of the term, I’m really pleased with the outcome and would like to thank all the exhibitors for their artwork which has made this exhibition so good.

I’ve really enjoyed curating the gallery this year; next term is almost exclusively going to be used for assessment shows, so although I will still be involved to a certain extent, I will take a bit of a step back. This year has been an opportunity to really take control of the space and show my organisational and curatorial skills and to publicise the gallery through the blog I set up. I’m pleased with what I’ve done so far, but I have also learnt so much that I would like to put into practice next year.  I intend to push for even more ambitious shows to build upon the standards set so far.

Blue Link

March 23, 2011

I am putting a call out for submissions with a blue theme for an exhibition at the Link Gallery from 4th – 8th April. The work can be of any medium but must have a dominant blue colour to it. Please send photos of the completed work you wish to install, together with dimensions and any special install requirements you may need by the submission deadline of 26th March to mmulinkgallery@hotmail.co.uk.

I will curate the exhibition but you will be required to install your own work, so must be available to do this at midday on Friday 1st April. I look forward to receiving your submissions for what I hope to be a brilliant end to this term at the Link Gallery!