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:

 

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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!

 

Creeping Light

February 21, 2011

Here are some photos of my creeping light; I have also made a short film of the strange creeping movements which I plan to edit to music (I’m still considering the best music to use) and designing possible ways of presenting the work. I find peculiar creatures and people present themselves in the photos which give an eerie quality to the images which I want to exploit with further development.

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Sit on the Sky

February 15, 2011

I went out on a rare sunny day to All Saints Park with my lovely Canon camera to practice my photography skills in the outdoors. Amongst a lot of pictures of snuggling pigeons and textured tree bark I came across a little metal pool filled with leaves and water in a hidden memorial part of the park. I delighted in the crisp reflection of the blue sky and trees, it framed that area of sky perfectly and I had to capture it. The resulting image has, I think, a quiet melancholy to it reflected in the deep blue hue of the image and the area it was taken in.

I also found a scruffy abandoned chair with a little puddle on the seat that reflected the sky also, I like the idea of someone being able to ‘sit on the sky’ and think the photo makes for a good visual for this quirky concept.

This effect reminds me of Anish Kapoor’s famous ‘Sky Mirrors’ which I really admire. His work often creates a sense of infinity and illusion, something which I am working around and developing in my other work using light, glass, and now mirrors. My progress on developing these concepts into something more tangible is still in its infancy however.