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.

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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.

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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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‘Building Text’ is my first solo London exhibition. Across three buildings at Broadgate London I spent the summer creating an almost entirely new body of artwork. It’s been a busy time that’s really pushed my creativity and design skills.

My starting point was the architectural details of the Broadgate site for the works in Exchange House and Bishopsgate 201. I selected recognisable structural influences, and some more subtle details and shapes from around the site before combining these with a poetic use of words, and Helvetica Bold font.

This exhibition brings together many threads of interest and influence including my fascination with spaces and architecture; themes of the Sun, Moon, and stars, as well as connections to dreams and the Unconscious, which run through much of my work.

I enjoy repetitive use of poems and words, giving a sense of rhythm and graphic design impact to my work. By playing with the same words in different works, I find that I can convey new meaning for my poems through form. For my sculptures, I’ve experimented with repetition of text to create patterns that subtly reflect shapes in the architecture. I use Helvetica Bold font as the basis to my designs because of the beautiful proportions that lend themselves to being joined together and built up into new forms and patterns.

I have also created sculptures that play with the placement of words in relation to the form of the structure, these require more investigation from the viewer as they must read the poems in reflections or at angles and around sides of the pieces. This encouragement for curiosity guides the visitor through the subtle narrative and wordplay as I combine art, poetry and design throughout the exhibition.

Each of the sculptures have been designed with a slotting system to fit together without the use of glue to integrate a structural system and method befitting of the title of the exhibition ‘Building Text’. It’s also playful as it’s reminiscent of the kit models put together by children. Colour and translucency of the Perspex complement the text references, and also the building materials such as the blues, greens and grey on building facades used in ‘Opacity of Dreams’, ‘Housed in Dream’ and ‘House of Echoes’. For ‘Sun’, ‘Moon’ and ‘Twilight’ Houses, and also ‘Star Garden’, I have used a more vivid colour palette to reflect the light types.

In the Broadgate Tower I have photography, graphic design  and other wall-based works with a poetic focus.

You can view ‘Buiding Text’ across the Broadgate site from now until 26th October 2018. Please visit the Broadgate site for access information and opening times.

This exhibition has been beautifully curated by Rosie Glenn.

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I’m excited to be presenting a solo exhibition of text-based artworks consisting of a large-scale installation, works on paper, graphic design, sculptures and other mixed media across three buildings at Broadgate, London.

For ‘Building Text’ I’ve taken the iconic architecture of the Broadgate site as my influence, particularly for the sculptural laser cut Perspex pieces which will be displayed in 201 Bishopsgate. The exhibition is almost entirely new work produced over the last few months, and I must thank Sheffield Hallam University for their generous support in the use of their laser cutters for the development of the Perspex sculptural works, and to AA2A who organised my original residency at Sheffield Hallam earlier in the year. The exhibition opens on Monday 10th September and will be on until 26th October and is part of Broadgate’s Autumn season celebrating the London Design Festival.

Go to the Broadgate site to find out more about the exhibition and opening times.

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!

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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!

 

 

 

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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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Throughout 2015 I worked on a project with stroke survivors. This included workshops including creative writing, visual arts, photography and music. I ran the visual arts workshops and also curated exhibitions of the work produced throughout the project at Manchester Central Library and the Manchester Museum. (You can learn more about the background to the project and the first exhibitions I curated here.) This year, I was asked to curate an even larger exhibition of the work produced to be exhibited at the historic Manchester Victoria Baths. Below is my curatorial statement and pictures from the exhibition:

The exhibition was curated around the theme of ‘transformation’. A stroke is a profound and life changing event. It creates challenges, both practical and emotional, that need to be faced and processed by both the survivor and those close to them. A profound transformation has taken place and this is reflected in the artwork produced.

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Responding to the site of Victoria Baths as a space that was traditionally used for health and wellbeing treatments, the theme of transformation was a natural fit. When it came to the presentation of the work I wanted to create a visual metaphor that visitors would physically interact with and understand even before seeing the artwork.

A curtain was an apt symbol for the space because in the Baths people would change from one state to another, from their daytime clothes to swimming costumes, to cleanse and relax. Participants’ portraits were printed large on gauze and hung around the baths. Behind each picture was a banner of their artwork to tell their individual stories of life before and after stroke. Visitors could view beyond the outward appearance of each person by lifting the curtain. From curtains at the hospital, to curtains at home, to the metaphorical curtains we use to hide elements of ourselves from others. Here we were ‘lifting the curtain’ on stroke.

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From the 880 visitors to the exhibition over the weekend we received extremely positive feedback. The interactivity of the exhibition worked to create a physical pause and a longer engagement with each piece than if the work had been immediately accessible. For the participants themselves, it was a culmination of the project, their progress, and an opportunity to see their work professionally mounted in a building of cultural and historic significance. A moment to feel proud of their talents, journey, and accomplishments.

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The Stories Under Our Feet

December 20, 2015

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Rain – photo by John Lynch

The Stories Under Our Feet‘ are ephemeral light and text artworks trimming the edges of the benches that surround Manchester Central Library. I developed a series of short observational poems drawing on changing weather and seasons to create moments of contemplation for people walking by or sitting on the benches. The piece was developed for the Enlighten Manchester Festival of Light and Sound Art 2015 and was funded using public funding through Arts Council England.

I was pleased with the positive public response to the work. So many people stopped to slowly make their way around the benches to read the poems, smiling once they’d completed the set and commenting on how nice it was to see engaging artwork in the public domain.

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Sunshift – photo by John Lynch

I changed the piece each night to shuffle the poems and show a variety. The light and shadow cast changed each night also, sometimes easy to read, other times a little more difficult and erring more towards the aesthetic of the feathery light and shadow effect. I like people to engage with my work and I also like to slow them down from their daily lives if only for a few moments. For some, they only noticed the attractive lighting effect, whereas others spent time reading the poems more carefully. Going off the feedback at the time, it seems something positive was gained from both types of encounter.

You can see more pictures of the work on my website here.

 

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Lost and Found (couple) – Photo by John Lynch

I also created another piece “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.

One visitor told me that she lost her little boy in the library on the visit and found him at my piece – he’d positioned himself so that he had ‘lost’ projected onto him. She said once she’d found him, she took a picture of him with the word ‘found’ on him instead. Great to know my artwork helped to reunite the two, but also that it was easily understood and interacted with!

 

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Lost and Found – Photo by John Lynch

 

Many thanks to John Lynch for the photos, and to Enlighten Manchester/Curated Place and Arts Council England for their support in realising these pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In October I ran creative writing and light art workshops at Manchester Central Library as part of the build up to the Enlighten Manchester Festival of Light and Sound Art. These workshops explored themes of memory and identity using creative writing and a final session of light and shadow play.

The workshops were split into sections, the first introduced participants to the library resources for interesting reading and inspiration material in order to explore their own memories to tell stories in interesting literary ways. The second used experimental literary techniques to create new writings and further refine work for the final week. In the final session I introduced everyone to various light and shadow play techniques and long exposure photography. They also used their own writing to create pictures in the shadow word style I use in my own practice and in my Enlighten Manchester final piece “The Stories Under Our Feet“.

The inspiration for these workshops came from a previous project with the Stroke Association, which delivered workshops in creative writing, visual art and photography to help stroke survivors to explore their memories (I have written more on this project here: Curating Stroke: Stories of the Self Through Art and Science).

I’m really pleased with the workshops, I only wish I could have had longer to help develop more work as three sessions only provided a taster of what is possible!

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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.