Lisa Pettibone, MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, has been selected for the AER residency at Domaine de Boisbuchet, France.

Set up by Professor Lucy Orta UAL Chair of Art for the Environment – Centre for Sustainable Fashion in 2015, The Art for the Environment International Artist Residency Programme (AER) provides UAL graduates with the exceptional opportunity to apply for short residencies at one of our internationally renowned host institutions, to explore concerns that define the 21st century – biodiversity, environmental sustainability, social economy, and human rights. Through research, studio practice, critiques and mentoring the AER programme is designed to envision a world of tomorrow; to imagine and create work that challenges how we interact with the environment and each other.

Read Lisa’s successful residency proposal:

Materials have always been at the centre of my art practice. Initially I trained as a graphic designer in California and, aside from the need for balanced typography and carefully chosen imagery, the paper stock was extremely important for print quality, texture and ‘tone’ of the project. This part of my professional life was the beginning of a long love affair with paper and all its possibilities. As I progressed to glass sculpture, it was the transformation of sheet glass into three-dimensional forms that caught my imagination so I began to specialise in glass slumping where a sheet is heated to precise temperatures to make it stretch and bend, thus becoming a sculptural object. The elasticity of glass was mesmerising so I built handmade ceramic props to control the flow of flat glass when fired. I was drawn to mirrored and metallic surfaces that combined well with these methods and added an optical complexity that invited movement from the viewer to play with the reflections. However, I often used paper to model the shape I was after – in fact this process of going from 2D to 3D is quite natural in my working methods.

Three years ago at an artist residency in Atina, Italy, deprived of glass to work with, I brought only two materials with me: paper and a large fishing net. A series of sculptures I made there allowed me to explore gravity and stretch more fully away from the strictures of glass. Handling these tactile materials was a pleasure and I learned about the expressive potential of these materials as they became more alluring to use.

During my MA in Art and Science at Central Saint Martins I was able to explore this process further and investigate new materials. I began printing on paper (digital and screen printing) then slicing and pulling it to form work that held energy and tension in its shape while conveying a narrative in the photos. In 2017 I won the National Open Art Prize with one of these sculptures (Temporal View 2). Gravity was the focus of my dissertation and research into physics led to the understanding that time is related to this force. I have always been drawn to self-making forms where the piece takes shape when affected by the pull of gravity and tension.

I went on to use highly reflective dichroic plastic in another project called Apeiron where I bonded this architectural film to a polypropylene sheet then laser cut it before bending it into a variety of shapes. When suspended from the ceiling it was free to move and gently shudder in the ambient air, giving it a life of its own. This added a thrilling and spontaneous aspect to the work. Lighting these forms so they spray multi-coloured light around the room is another facet to be explored in the future.

Concentrating on creating new larger spaces by stretching material across multiple points in a room, I chose a fine mesh fabric used by belly dancers. The four-way stretch enabled me to show tension while adding sculptural depth. While researching gravity, I came across two concepts in astrophysics that speak about the fabric of space in reference to the spread of ‘dark matter’ in the universe and ‘gravitational lensing’ that could indicate where it is in space. Using my knowledge of the optical qualities of glass, I added quartz spheres to the construction adding weight, form, reflected distortions and interference patterns (moiré) to the mix, making dynamic air-bound artwork called Seeing Not Knowing. This was probably the most effective piece in my final degree work.

I propose bringing all this experience to bear on the creative possibilities of organic photovoltaics in thin film technologies during the residency. It would be rewarding to use my artistic skills on a project that could have an important impact on the use of solar cell technology in renewable energy. Some years ago I conceived of a turning sculpture made from silicon wafers that could catch UV rays from every angle. Silicon is a beautiful conductive material when polished and I wondered why it hadn’t been used more creatively. Used widely in the space industry, they could perhaps reach their full potential in the hands of artist collaborators.

Learning about OPV technology and how environmental factors affect its use would be stimulating. Recently I came across Janet Echelman’s work and was bowled over by the stunning relationship of form, colour and environment in her practice and recognise my own aesthetic principles in her work. It would be incredibly valuable to collaborate with her during the development of this project, as I would particularly like to gain experience planning larger scale public works. Equally, Trevor Lee’s approach as a landscape architect would give me pertinent insight into formulating ideas linked to technology in an outdoor setting. The place where man and nature intersect is fascinating and it would be exciting to merge with a group of like-minded people to synthesise a novel approach to OPV where we work with nature as a contributor to its shape and function in a natural environment.

New Residency opportunities are being added all of the time, please keep checking the dedicated webpages for other AER Programmes available for application.  

NOTE: Applications accepted from UAL graduates, postgraduates and recent alumni (within 12 months from graduation date).

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