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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!

 

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.

 

 

 

Lumiere Durham 2015

December 7, 2015

DREAMERS by Elisa Artesero

DREAMERS by Elisa Artesero

I’ve previously written about my admiration of the UK’s largest light festival, Lumiere Durham. The wonder and magic that the festival creates in the picturesque northern city is an inspiration to me as an emerging light artist. It has also certainly been one of the biggest influences in my artwork development and desire to create large-scale light art for the public realm. I often wondered what I’d do if got the chance to exhibit there, and this year I got the opportunity!

DREAMERS was installed in Durham’s Crown Court Gardens. It was inspired by Japanese paper screens and the Basho Zen poem:

‘Guest’s shadow through
the paper screen – I sit dreaming over charcoal fumes’

Large letters of mirror and steel were scattered across the grass and cast shadows onto a screen. It was a sculptural space for visitors to explore and become a part of the work as either participant or viewer. A light wash from behind the letters cast their shadows onto the screen to spell the word DREAMERS along with the shadows of the visitors that animated the space with their bold light and shadow play.

Visitors enjoying casting their shadows

Visitors enjoying casting their shadows

I was so pleased with the visitor reaction to the piece. People immediately understood the work and often spent a long time in the installation trying out different shadow effects. The space was filled with joy and laughter and it was a pleasure to see how imaginative people were with the work. There were tugs of war, dance routines, bicycles, umbrellas, kisses, hugs and many more poses throughout the weekend as each visitor cast their fleeting shadow on the screen.

Tugs of war - visitors getting creative with their shadows!

Visitors getting creative with their shadows!

I think play, joy and wonder are essential parts of our lives, so to facilitate that feeling in any small manner within a piece that I create brings me much joy also. With a lot of my work I create immersive spaces that incorporate text, light, shadow and sculpture. It is often inspired by themes of transience, the nature of happiness and hope.

This year’s Lumiere was as exciting and wonderful as always. There were some amazing installations across the city, which I was also lucky enough to explore on the final night. I feel honoured to have been a part of it and it continues to inspire me to create more work.

Many thanks go to the festival producers, Artichoke, and to the generous support of Dyer Engineering who manufactured the work.

DREAMERS

DREAMERS

 

 

Next up to show at is the Enlighten Manchester Festival of Light and Sound Art, 10th-12th December, for which I have received support using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Light Holds Me Here exhibition (photo credit S.Illes)

Light Holds Me Here exhibition (photo credit S.Iles)

This year I made what only existed in my mind into a reality. There’s not much more an artist can ask for, really! Here’s a recap of my artistic year gone by.

In January my degree piece ‘Leap and the Net Will Appear’ was still on show as part of the Nesta Art Showcase, selected from a national call out to be exhibited in central London at the Nesta gallery space.

Leap and the Net Will Appear

Leap and the Net Will Appear

In February I continued to be part of the DIY Art School, a year-long project by art school graduates wishing to continue the momentum of creative learning in the year after graduation. For this we had weekly meetings and scheduled artist talks, workshops and crits.

March saw the success of DIY Art School continue as I was asked to represent the group by giving a speech at the opening of Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces, Federation House. I was pretty honoured to be speaking along side the likes of Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery.

Jumping ahead to May and I was selected as one of the UK representative artists for the ‘Art of Youth’ Youth in Action European Commission project in MontenegroThe 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. As well as being creatively stimulating and getting to exhibit in such an unusual space, I also made many friends that I’m still in contact with today.

Unity sunlight

Unity sunlight

I was over the moon to get Arts Council England funding in June for ‘Light Holds Me Here a period of research and development of my practice to help to fuse my two creative backgrounds of light art and writing. This project helped to shape the rest of the year as I was working towards a solo exhibition and to show work in the Faroe Islands later in the year. I also started working with Curated Place, who supported my application and my progress throughout the year.

 

 

In July I also began a new research project, Manifest, with fellow artists, John Lynch and Roger Bygott. This also received Arts Council England funding and allowed us to look into the feasibility and planning of a festival that supported North West based artists and would run alongside the Manchester International Festival in 2015.

September was a red-letter kind of a month for me. I was honoured to have been selected as Tim Marlow’s Curator Choice for Fine Art for NOISE Festival 2014. I went to the press launch at the House of Commons and found out that my winning entry ‘Sun Scroll‘ was to be exhibited at the Manchester Buy Art Fair, then at the Tetley in Leeds and also a picture of it was placed on a plinth and exhibited on London’s South Bank for nearly 3 months!

I was also awarded ‘Outstanding’ for my ‘Sun Bowl’ and ‘Excellent’ for ‘Leap and the Net Will Appear’ for NOISE Festival by the CEO Denise Proctor.

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Sun Scroll picture on plinth on the South Bank, London

 

Alongside this, I exhibited my final work for Light Holds Me Here developed over the summer in a solo exhibition of the same name at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces. An absolute dream of an experience and I was really pleased with the great feedback from visitors.

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Light Holds Me Here self portrait in the installation

 

In October I developed and delivered a series of expressive drawing and working with words workshops with stroke survivors for the Stroke Association. This was a new experience for me and I was pleased that the participants enjoyed it too and created some amazing artwork in the process.

Stroke Association Workshop

Stroke Association Workshop

Curated Place took me to Copenhagen and then the Faroe Islands in November. In the Faroes I exhibited a poem installation,Ambiguous Borders together with a poem written in response to mine by Faroese poet, Oddfridur Marni Rasmussen, at the light art and literature festival, Bóka Dagar. I also had the generous support of fellow light artist, Ulf Pederson, as he enabled me to project more of my poetry onto the buildings of the Faroese National Broadcasting house.

'Ambiguous Borders' exhibited in the Faroe Islands

‘Ambiguous Borders’ exhibited in the Faroe Islands

December was another busy month as I was chosen as one of Red Bull Studios’ ‘Red Bull Collectives 2014. For this I got to collaborate with award-winning photographer, Layla Sailor, to creative an exhibition ‘Fragment|Reflect’ at the Red Bull Studios on Tooley Street, central London.

'You Hide in Spaces' at Fragment|Reflect, Red Bull Studios

‘You Hide in Spaces’ at Fragment|Reflect, Red Bull Studios

To end the month and year, I was awarded another Arts Council England Grants for the Arts grant to create new piece of work, A Solid Wish Scatters for the Enlighten Manchester festival of Light Art. I exhibited one of my largest pieces of work yet in the centre of Manchester in Piccadilly Gardens.

I couldn’t have wished for a more positive end to the year and I thank all my colleagues, sponsors and supporters who all helped to make it actually happen.

A Solid Wish Scatters. Photo credit J.Lynch.

A Solid Wish Scatters. Photo credit J.Lynch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Solid Wish Scatters

December 11, 2014

A Solid Wish Scatters

A Solid Wish Scatters

I’m really pleased to present a new public realm artwork ‘A Solid Wish Scatters’ supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The work is on show now until Sunday 14th December as part of the Enlighten Manchester Festival of Light Art in Piccadilly Gardens run and produced by Curated Place.

‘A Solid Wish Scatters’ is an installation made of concrete blocks to echo the concrete of its surroundings. The words reflect up onto the famous concrete wall in Piccadilly Gardens. The earthly presence of the blocks scatter into an ephemeral light piece on the wall to show all that is solid is still fragile and all that is perceived to be permanent never will be. Its presentation here is using spotlights for the dark winter nights, however it is also a sunlight-activated work when re-located to a South-facing wall.

I’ll update my blog with more pictures and maybe even some video very soon. In the meantime however, pop down to look at the work for yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOISE Festival Curator Choice

September 15, 2014

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I’m so pleased to announce that I’ve been selected as Tim Marlow’s Curator Choice for NOISE Festival 2014! My work ‘Sun Scroll’ was selected from over 5,000 entries to make the final 5 in the Fine Art category.

Tim Marlow is the Director of Artistic Programmes at the Royal Academy in London, so to have my work selected by him is a real honour. I was also awarded ‘Outstanding’ for my ‘Sun Bowl‘ and ‘Excellent’ for ‘Leap and the Net Will Appear by Denise Proctor, Artist and CEO of NOISE charity. See more of my work on my NOISE portfolio.

“A deceptively simple idea which has great clarity of vision and a wonderfully elusive and allusive result. Deftly poetic in its means of expression as much as in its content” Tim Marlow.

I was invited to the press launch at the House of Commons last week. It was here that I was able to meet the other selected artists and to speak to Tim about why he chose my work and ask questions about the art world, galleries, exhibitions and so forth.

I was also astonished to find out that a huge 1m x 1m picture of my work is on display on a plinth outside London’s Southbank until November.

To add to the list of wonderful opportunities given by the NOISE Festival, I’ll also show my work at the Buy Art Fair Manchester 24th-28th September, and then at a special exhibition at the Leeds Tetley 3rd-5th October. I really can’t wait!

One shelf of an ever-increasing poetry collection

One shelf of an ever-increasing poetry collection

I started my Arts Council England funded project at the beginning of July and it’s been a busy couple of weeks. So far, I’ve been mixing research, writing and experimentation. One of the main objectives of this project is to create a new body of work which will fuse my own writing with my light art. In order to do this, I’ve spent a lot of my initial time writing so that I have content and potential narrative to inspire and lead the visual work.

The themes in my work are addressing ‘desire’ and ‘void’, which may seem a little antithetical at first look, but much of my work has centred on Zen poetry, the transitoriness of our existence and a desire for the intangible. This is, of course, a very short explanation, but should go some way to show my reasons for exploring the two themes. So, to start, I have been reading “Nothingness and Desire” by James W. Heisig, and “Void|In Art” by Mark Levy, PhD. These have been giving me a philosophical and artistic view and history of the themes.

I’ve also started to re-read Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore” as it’s one of my favourite books by one of my favourite writers. Murakami’s worlds are surreal, sometimes scary, sometimes magical, and often dreamlike. He writes in such a practical manner about the strangest occurrences, which serve to make them seem unnervingly real. I get so engrossed that I practically feel as if I’m living the story with the characters, particularly in his last book “1Q84”. His works inspire me more visually than in my written work, however.

Poetry-wise I have been reading and re-reading a wide range of poets, many of which are in the Bloodaxe “Staying Alive” series. I also have a collection of poetry books by individual poets that I dip into, too many to list here.

I recently went to the Liverpool Biennial, mainly as a small pilgrimage to the Adrian Henri exhibition. The Liverpool poets, Henri, McGough, Patten and Mitchell were probably the first poets that I read as a child that really got me interested in the poetic form, and I still read and am inspired by to this day. I’m enchanted by their wit, simple and effective observations, romanticism and visual play with words.

I’d never heard Henri read or sing his poems before [shocking] so it was interesting to hear him do this on the recordings. Some were much more lively than I’d imagined when I read them to myself – “Love Is” was much more upbeat than I’d ever read it to be! The artwork that accompanied many of the poems incorporated collage, sketches, paintings and sculpture. Some were placed together with a rough visual humour, whereas others, based on the more serious and romantic poems, were put together with a real tenderness. This allowed space for the poignancy of a symbol, such as a blurry bright pink heart floating close to a black void. Seeing the work in its home of Liverpool did romanticise the city somewhat, but it was a romance I was happy to indulge for the day.

Just a quick recommendation for anyone visiting Liverpool – just down the road from the University is a brilliant second-hand bookshop – Reid of Liverpool. I got five poetry books for very reasonable prices and in remarkably good condition!

Reid of Liverpool

Reid of Liverpool

Poetry books from Liverpool!

Poetry books from Liverpool!