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!

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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!