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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‘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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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!

 

 

The Stories Under Our Feet

December 20, 2015

Rain

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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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.

 

 

 

 

LHMH Elisa Artesero self portrait

I exhibited my Arts Council England supported work ‘Light Holds Me Here‘ at Federation House, Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces in Manchester 24th-28th September 2014.

I’d been exploring the themes of desire and void through new writing and presented it in a large-scale installation using light and shadow effects. I developed the work as something akin to a dream world, one which tracks a domestic space but is presented in abstract and sculptural form. I wanted the space to be something the visitor could become a part of, to experience the light and shadows for themselves and to follow the loose narrative I presented.

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The windows in the space had been covered with two-way mirror, so you could see out in the day time but at night the work took on a very different quality as the windows turned into mirrors and reflected the whole installation over and over again. The clarity of reflection and the shadow path words reflecting the right way in the mirrored windows gave the effect of many alternative spaces.

I was really pleased with the result of the work as I was never truly going to know how it would look until it was installed in the space, and neither did I know how visitors were going to react to and interact with it. I’m pleased to say that the reaction was positive, I had some interesting conversations during the exhibition and I also had anonymous feedback sheets which contained some wonderful interpretations of the work and most importantly, how it made visitors feel when they walked around it.

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Here is a selection of some of the comments of what people enjoyed most:

“The immersive nature of the light against the shadows. I thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of text as a sculptural object.”

“A feeling of comfort juxtaposed with fear – beautiful shadows. The use of words in reflection. The sense of vertigo induced by reflection.”

“Light Holds Me Here drew me in, felt slightly uncomfortable in anticipation. Amazing effect at night with reflections in the windows.”

“The reflection that felt like I was teleported in different dimensions then projected.”

“How the sound of the words in my head fit snugly into the sensory experience of the space.”

This post contains some of my own photographs of the exhibition, but on my website you can see all the professional photographs of all the work along with the time lapse video showing the change from day to night in the exhibition. 

View more pictures from the exhibition here.

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Dance

August 25, 2014

 

Make what we can

With our bodies.

For no one

In one hundred years

Will remember

How we danced

With a certain grace and

Free abandon,

Loving the life we have now.

 

I sometimes think about the moments some people lose because they are too embarrassed to really let go and take a moment for what it is, enjoy it for what it is. I dance a lot, it’s part of my practice to clear my mind to make way for new (or previously uncovered) ideas. In fact, most of my ideas come from a moment within the act of dancing (I am definitely not trained, nor do I study it). This is peculiar as the works don’t always include movement so specifically. Anyway, this was a poem I wrote quickly whilst dancing.