Esbe: Art Inspired by Women in Sport

Esbe is a young gun having only been a professionally practicing artist for four years. She turned to art when her career as a classical guitarist was brought to a halt by a neurological RSI (repetitive strain injury). Having trained at the Royal Academy of Music and always worked as a professional musician Esbe reflects, “When the condition developed and it was diagnosed I knew I would never play again”

When she was six years old, Esbe bought her mother a birthday card, bearing an Art Deco Erté design. It was the first card she’d ever bought and the smooth elegance of the 1920’s made its’ impression at that very early age. Audrey Beardsley is another influence she takes from the glitzy era of Art Deco and you can see it reflected in the graceful lines that define Esbe’s work.

She has an ongoing collection of source images, which in Esbe’s words is, “a folder full of stuff I’ve collected though I’m not sure where it’s all come from!”

Esbe fishes from this pool of magazine cut-outs for inspiration, prompting a painstaking drawing process. Once a composition has been refined on paper, Esbe enlarges the outline transferring it onto canvas, ready to paint.

The Diver

Olympic Inspiration

Esbe had never really been interested in sport before the Olympics came to London. She cycles but wouldn’t describe herself as sporty and she doesn’t follow any discipline or team.

The Cyclist

When the goliath sporting event came to town in 2012 Esbe explains, “I thought I’d try to watch the Olympics and to my great surprise I became glued to it. I didn’t do much work that month!”

This unexpected connection with the Olympics coupled with stumbling upon a magazine image of a cyclist inspired the creation of the first of a number of sports related pieces.

“I like to create ‘things within things’”, explains Esbe in reference to a cyclist nestled between the spokes of large bike wheel. “I also like to produce groups of works as opposed to a one off.”

Esbe originally teamed up with a small factory who helped her to develop a sports themed collection onto glass. This body of work then developed into a collection of paintings on canvas.

Women in Sport

Esbe’s collection is made up entirely of sportswomen; from gymnast to water skier, surfer to tennis player.  It wasn’t a conscious decision to begin with but as the ideas developed, the collection grew into a celebration of women in sport.

Although Esbe does paint men, she explains, “the female form is very flowing and you don’t often see men lounging elegantly!”

It seems to be the lines and contours in her work that people connect with, perhaps more so than the sports themselves. “To begin with I thought people would relate to the sports they played or followed to but that hasn’t been the case. It’s the form that interests them.”

Esbe has mined each sport for elegant shapes and successfully converted these into stylishly simple paintings. Although it’s early days, her perfectionist nature and clarity of process promises more interesting and refreshing work to come. Watch this space.

The Tennis Player

Every Facilities Manager a Curator: Approaching Office Art

In a world inundated with signs prompting us to push, pull and follow the arrows are there more intuitive ways to help people find their way around a building?

Directional signage is no doubt central to the successful navigation of a space… but perhaps we are missing something.

Art is a powerful tool that is often underestimated, treated purely as an aesthetic exercise. It is used to ‘brighten up’ a space or add ‘a splash of colour’ but its ability to impact on human behaviour goes far beyond decoration.

 

Enhancing Set Routes

Directional signage gets us from A to B and if created in a certain style goes some way to reflecting company branding. Art can enhance that journey tenfold, making it not just a means to an end but an experience in itself.

By retracing the footsteps taken by the users of your premises, you can highlight these areas and focus on creating coherent identities tailored to suit each space.

Art can help to prepare the ground for a specific task, e.g. a creative thinking space or client meeting area. By dividing your building into a set of experiences, you can deliver coherence within each one by theming your art to support the desired activity.

Artist: Olivier Messas

Artist: Olivier Messas

 

Triggering Movement

Email and internal comms can sometimes mean people have no real cause to interact face to face especially when their desks are located in separate areas.

Changing the art in your office regularly triggers curiosity, prompting people to explore the building and visit one another’s spaces.

“Having our paintings changed every couple of months stimulates interest and debate amongst our staff, and encourages them to take a tour around the office checking out the new artwork.”
— Kim Allen, UK Facilities Manager at Oliver Wyman

 

Activity Specific Spaces

Understanding the behavioural outcomes required from specific spaces is key to developing how we approach these environments with art. Behaviours can be very well supported and promoted by choosing the right art for the context. 


Ben Nevis by Sam Martin

Ben Nevis by Sam Martin

Sensitive Spaces

For mediation rooms and similar, art needs to support a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Of course a holistic approach is important - calming art is less effective if someone has to sit on an uncomfortable chair - but the right colours and subject matter can go a long way to creating an inviting setting.

 

Avoid aggressive colours such as red and consider greens, blues and pastels


Creative Spaces

If we want to create ‘buzz’ in a space and facilitate high energy levels and communication, art can be used as a catalyst. Something a little ‘out there’ or provocative in style, whilst remaining inoffensive can be a great spark for debate.

 

Create a frequently changing space to keep people engaged with their surroundings

Morning Break by Claudia Elsner

Morning Break by Claudia Elsner


Artist: Olivier Messas

Artist: Olivier Messas

Switching Off

If you are seeking to provide a space that helps people to switch off from their work, make sure the art is especially captivating. Creating a space that is exclusively dedicated to art can provide staff with somewhere to go when they need a clean mental break.

Consider less conventional genres such as surrealism or optical illusions in order to promote total absorption and mindfulness

The Girls Who Became Artists

In the run up to International Women’s Day, we asked our women artists for a message to their younger selves. We asked,

“What would you say to the little girl who became the artist you are today?”

The responses were inspiring.

As in many other sectors, the odds are often stacked against professional women artists. If we want the art world to be representative we need to raise awareness and inspire young women to #BeBoldForChange in what is often a male dominated world.

We are proud to exhibit the work some Europe's most talented women artists. Learn about them, read their inspiring messages and celebrate their success and achievements.

Zarina Keyani

Zarina Keyani

Caroline Atkinson

Caroline Atkinson

Deborah Batt

Deborah Batt

Meraud Bawden

Meraud Bawden

Jude Caisley

Jude Caisley

Katherine Close

Tessa Coe

Tessa Coe

Katie Daw

Katie Daw

Eve Dawson

Eve Dawson

Julia Budd

Julia Budd

Katie Goodwin

Katie Goodwin

Esbe

Esbe

Karin Hay White

Karin Hay White

Julia Sorrell

Julia Sorrell

Sheryl Roberts

Sheryl Roberts

Ana Guilarte

Ana Guilarte

Giuliana Lazzerini

Giuliana Lazzerini

Margit Huy

Margit Huy

Alison Johnson

Alison Johnson

Janet Moses

Janet Moses

Grazia Tancredi

Grazia Tancredi

Liz Milburn

Liz Milburn

Christel Hagg

Christel Hagg

Lorraine Benton

Lorraine Benton

Pip Sanday

Pip Sanday

Nadine De Klerk

Nadine De Klerk

Monique Celestri

Monique Celestri

Lisa McKendrick

Lisa McKendrick

Jenny Goddard

Jenny Goddard

Chantal Trine

Chantal Trine

Fumiko Ishikawa

Fumiko Ishikawa

Ruhnare La Grace

Ruhnare La Grace

Rachel Haywood

Rachel Haywood

Catherine Prieur

Catherine Prieur

Catherine Hollens

Catherine Hollens

Madeleine Monnet

Madeleine Monnet

Hazel Langley

Hazel Langley

Winifred Ford

Winifred Ford

Rosemary Lawrey

Rosemary Lawrey

Monique Prignon

Monique Prignon

Sandee Johnson

Sandee Johnson

Monique Paul

Monique Paul

Olive Berthier

Olive Berthier

Madeleine Remy

Madeleine Remy

Guerrilla Girls: Not Funny Ha-ha

Famed for their provocative posters the Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous group of feminist art activists who have been campaigning for a democratic art world since 1985. Their many thousands of posters and stickers have made their way from stealth street projects to exhibitions and museums worldwide; you’ll even find their punchy slogans printed onto homeware and T-shirts in the Tate and Saatchi gift shop.

There is something tongue-in-cheek about finding their fierce words in these spaces because it’s often large art institutions that come under fire in their artworks. Though the occupation of these spaces may appear to be great progress, after over 30 years of activism, the picture is still pretty grim.

In a recent interview on the Stephen Colbert Show, the Guerrilla Girls confirmed that when they launched in 1985 the Guggenheim, Metropolitan and Whitney museums had never had a woman solo show and the Modern had exhibited just one. 30 years on, this number had risen by precisely one additional show per museum taking the Guggenheim, Metropolitan and Whitney to one and the Modern to a heady two!

 

Why THIS art?

Public museums are places we go to learn about our culture, to educate our children and inspire ourselves. When we know the population to be a broad 50% split between men and women, is it right that only around 3- 5% of the art in our public spaces represents female artists’ contribution to culture?

As Frida of Guerrilla Girls explains to Stephen Colbert, “Every aesthetic decision has a value behind it. If all the aesthetic decisions are being made by the same people, the art will never look like the whole of our culture”

So, next time you visit a museum, ask yourself, why am I being shown this art in particular? As we know, it's the winners who write history. Frida points out, “Unless all the voices of our culture are in the history of art, it’s not really a history of art, it’s a history of power.”

 

A Few Cold Facts… brrr

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only museum in the world dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women artists. In a recent fact finding mission, they discovered some disappointing truths.

Work by women artists makes up only 3–5% of major permanent collections in the U.S. and Europe and 34% in Australian state museums.

Of 590 major exhibitions by nearly 70 institutions in the U.S. from 2007–2013, only 27% were devoted to women artists.

The top three museums in the world, the British Museum (est. 1753), the Louvre (est. 1793), and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (est. 1870) have never had female directors.

Only five women made the list of the top 100 artists by cumulative auction value between 2011-2016.

In the list of top 100 individual works sold between 2011-2016, only two artists were women. Of those 100 artworks, 75 of them came from just 5 male artists.

Watch this space for our feature on all of our women artists coming up tomorrow for International Women's Day.

Say ‘I love you’ with these top 4 symbols…

Pagan festival come global (and just a little commercial) celebration of love; Valentine’s Day in nearly here. Love never fails to inspire artists; from poets to painters, emblems of love crop up in cultures all over the world.

 

The classic heart

This organ is thought to have been the centre of emotion by many including Aristotle and is our best known universal symbol for love today.

Tina Ashton quite literally puts heart and soul into her paintings… you’ll find a hidden heart in each one of her season themed collection.

Sun glows on my summers day, 76x76cm £295

Moon Chills My Autumn Night, 90x90cm £495

Sun streams through my spring trees, 76x76cm £295

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart" Confucius

 

Butterflies

The feeling of falling in love is often described as having butterflies in our stomach. Butterflies exist as a symbol in many different cultures, representing love, transformation, freedom and hope.

Inspired by traditional kimono designs, Lily Greenwood’s delicate butterfly eruptions are the perfect way to say "you give me butterflies".

Butterflies on Black, Ochre, Aqua, 76x76cm £850

Butterflies on Heather,  76x76cm £850

Butterflies on Ochre, 76x76cm £850

“Love is like a butterfly: It goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes“ Author unknown

 

The Stars

For centuries humans have looked to the stars in matters that concern the heart. From ancient cultures such as the Egyptians through to today’s horoscope in the paper, it seems entrenched in the human psyche to star gaze for answers in love.

Veronica Gudmundson explores the cosmos, creating ethereal, evocative pieces that capture the power and mystery of the night sky.

Cosmic View, 80x80cm £850

Star Cluster, 80x80cm £800

Cosmic Perspective, 80x80cm £850

“Love knows not distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars” Gilbert Parker

 

Flowers

Gifting flowers as an expression of our emotion has long played a role in human ritual. Believed to have started as a prehistoric tradition, there is no doubt it is well and truly engrained as an expression of love.

Katherine Close creates uplifting floral arrangements. There could not be a better way to offer flowers in the form of art.

Orchids, 76x76cm £175

Purple Anemones, 76x76cm £175

Tulip, 76x76cm £175

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.” Luther Berbank

How the Little Van Gogh Residency impacted my work

In November 2016, Lorraine Benton became the first artist to take part in the Little Van Gogh residency.

The residency gave Lorraine a week’s exclusive use of a cottage in the New Forest, Hampshire, a location known for its inspiring scenery and wildlife. 

“We launched the residency to invite artists to take a creative leap in their art practice,” says Little Van Gogh Director Chloe Adams. “And we were delighted to have Lorraine as our first artist in residence – she grabbed the opportunity with both hands and made it her own.”

The entrants were co-judged by Southampton City Art Gallery Curator Tim Craven. “Being able to experience a new environment is a brilliant way for artists to kick start new ideas,” he said. “The launch of Little Van Gogh’s annual residency will have a really positive impact on the development of all the artists who take part.”

Lorraine Benton at the Little Van Gogh Artist Residency

We caught up with Lorraine after completing the residency to find out about her experience.

First of all, congratulations on being made Little Van Gogh’s first ever Artist in Residence, Lorraine.

Thank you! I was so surprised. I’ve never done a residency before so I was really excited to be offered this amazing chance.

How did you prepare for your week in the New Forest?

Well, I decided that I wanted to spend the residency doing something completely different and new for me. This started off with lots of thinking and dwelling on what I wanted to do – mainly while doing the hoovering! – and also lots of YouTube research into art techniques and materials.

I then went for it, and started buying things that were entirely new to me – spray paints, pouring mediums, inks, painting boards, squeezy bottles… plus some expensive brushes as an extra present to myself.

Mountains in Motion, Lorraine Benton

Mountains in Motion, Lorraine Benton

Puzzle en Haut, Lorraine Benton

Puzzle en Haut, Lorraine Benton

How did the residency studio compare to where you usually work?

The studio was in a conservatory, and bigger than my space at home – which was great as it meant I could work on a couple of pieces at the same time.

Also, I went on my own. As a wife and mother, that was helpful for me in not having any distractions. I didn’t lose my focus that way, which is ideal for me as I can easily paint for 14 hours straight…

You usually split your time between the UK and the French Alps; how was your experience of a week in the New Forest?

Well, I love trees – being around them makes me feel peaceful and alive. I also have a thing about light, so the New Forest was great.

My creative process begins with photography, so I went out exploring on several occasions. A photo I took on a bitterly cold day stands out – it was an incredible winter scene with an overflowing frozen stream, full of textures and reflections.

What kind of work did you create during the residency?

Because I started with a conscious decision to do something completely different, the first few days were like having a play really.

I had lots of fun experimenting and discovering which materials I liked to work with - for example, I found that I could almost draw with the pouring medium if I was careful where I spilt it – plus finding out which materials I didn’t like!

With so much time, I was able to create lots of pieces at once, working in layers. By the end of the week, I’d completed six large paintings, all with quite a different style to my usual work. I’d also gathered lots of ideas for other new pieces.

Winter Scene, Created during the Residency

How did the residency impact you personally?

As someone who studied art as a mature student, at times it’s been hard to concentrate on art with a family and my part-time job as a pharmacist. I had become a bit deflated about my skills, and began to worry that I was kidding myself about what I could achieve.

But being awarded the residency made me feel believed in, which is so important. It also allowed me to break down what I thought I understood about my work and my style, and to learn about myself.

Finally, what advice would you give to an artist preparing for a residency?

I think the most important thing is to plan to try something new – don’t just continue doing what you’re already doing. Arrive with a clean slate and no preconceived ideas.

For me, the Little Van Gogh residency was an amazing chance to focus and be productive, but also to experiment and do something completely fresh, and learn a lot in the process.

 

The first Little Van Gogh residency was also a positive experience for the Little Van Gogh team, who had planned the launch of the programme over several months.

“We’re already excited about next year’s residency,” says Chloé. “We’re looking forward to inviting more Little Van Gogh artists to take time away from their normal environment in 2017 to experience something new.”

Anna Dora: Art of the Northern Lights

Spiritual, and serene… these are both words that float to mind when looking at Anna’s work or, to think of it, when describing Anna herself.

We often hear artists refer to their art as an extension of themselves and Anna embodies this case and point. Every day begins with meditation, followed by a three mile walk along the River Itchen to her Winchester studio. Mindfulness permeates every aspect of her life, keeping her in the here and now.

Don’t let this fool you into thinking Anna is a monkish recluse, “I love people and meeting new people,” she reveals, “I can be in the studio for up to four days in a row but then I need to see others.”

Nordic Origins

There is the hint of a non UK accent in Anna’s voice, which coupled with the intense blues and phosphorus greens in her art, begins to reveal her Icelandic heritage.

Originally from Kopavogur on the outskirts of Reykjavík, Anna grew up in a unique environment. Not only is Kopavogur part of a mountain landscape, it’s home to an active volcano that erupts every seven years.

“We are just waiting for it at the moment,” Anna explains, as though waiting for an old friend. I ask her if she’s afraid of the eruption, “It’s not frightening. It’s always been there and I grew up with it.”

Anna Dora

This connection to the land coupled with regular exposure to the Northern Lights has provided Anna with vast inspiration for her art practice. She uses oil paints in the main, adding volcanic rock and lava dust from her native Iceland to create crunchy, jewel-like textures that make you want to run your fingers over the work.

Anna uses very fluid paint mixtures, “they help me to create the textures of the Northern Lights, which are very close to my heart.”

Anna’s method of working is very intuitive. She begins with a few dots of colour on the canvas and then goes with whatever feels right.

“There is always some sort of emotion or memory attached to my work… I could tell you the story for each piece I’ve ever made.”

Follow your heart

Anna is an entrepreneurial person. Her working life began as a makeup artist, developing into an impressive career. She owned a successful makeup school for eight years and continues to split her time between TV, photo shoots and evolving as a professional artist.

I ask Anna what advice she would pass on to other artists. “Don’t do things just because you think they might sell,” she warns, “Work from the heart. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.”

Nature Provides

If cast away to a desert island with just three tubes of paint, Anna would take “Indigo, phosphorus blue and white for contrast,” though she struggles to make the choice. “I just hope that there are colourful flowers on the island that I can make into more paint!”

This rather highlights her clear connection to nature and her faith in its ability to provide. “I’m really inspired by the Earth,” she explains, “I am inspired by everywhere I go.”

Anna’s mystical, ethereal work is a homage to Mother Earth and a physical representation of her own philosophy, “I don’t know what is coming today; all I know is what I am feeling.” Anna concludes, “Just go with the flow and what feels right.”

Designing for wellness

Boosting staff wellbeing should be a key focus for every employer. There are a variety of ways in which to do this and adding art to a working environment can be a great place to start. Lilli Hender from Office Genie discusses the benefits of art in the office and other measures you can put in place to enhance wellness.

A little art goes a long way

As a product of innovation, dedication and creativity, art can help to inspire similar feelings in employees able to look upon it. When the definition of art tends to involve its ability to evoke a response, it isn’t surprising it can make a difference to how employees feel in their workplace.

The introduction of art has recently been found to improve productivity and reduce stress levels. Dr Craig Knight, who conducted the study, is keen to stress that motivational posters don’t necessarily do their job: that time and effort are required to source inspiring artwork.

Yaheya Pasha

Game for greenery

Offices sometimes lend themselves to feelings of claustrophobia, especially when they’re cramped and in the middle of a city. Plants can be a welcome solution to this problem; they open up a space by adding a sense of the outdoors.

They also improve air quality which not only helps with clarity of thought, it’s healthier to inhale. The best plants for removing air pollutants are rubber plants, dracaena, and peace lilies. To heighten aesthetic value, why not add a ‘living wall’ of plants!

Sit down, stand up

It’s important to counteract the health problems associated with sitting for eight hours a day, five days a week in as many ways as you can. Businesses have begun to implement banks of standing desks to cut down on the length of time employees remain seated.

Ergonomic office equipment is also a must: adjustable screens, supportive chairs, and wrist rests are just a few of the items companies can invest in prevent discomfort and long-standing health issues.

David Dehaineault

Breaking free

The open-plan office comes under a lot of fire for a variety of reasons but the main point of concern when it comes to wellness is the fact the layout doesn’t cater for the needs of introverts. For people who appreciate privacy and work best when they’re alone, an open-plan office can be prove to be a stressful environment.

One way in which to tackle this issue is to create break-out areas: alternative spaces to the main section of the office that have a more intimate vibe. These spaces can have booths or hubs, a sofa and coffee table set up, or something more quirky.

If you’re wondering how to make your workplace wellbeing-friendly, the best thing to do is to ask staff members their opinion on the matter. Finding out what employees want and need will help to inform correct decisions for you. The above tips filter into a wider conversation about the significant impact a working environment has, and the sooner this is taken on board, the more you can achieve.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Lilli Hender writes for OfficeGenie.co.uk: a desk and office space marketplace for freelancers, startups, and SMEs. She has a particular interest in workplace wellbeing, productivity and design.

The Art of a Good Gift

With gifting season fast approaching it’s time to start browsing art.

Receiving a beautifully made, original work of art, chosen or perhaps even made just for you… it’s magical

What’s the occasion?

A Christmas gift... A festive theme

Giuliana Lazzerini, Snow Fox

For a wedding... A homage to love

Lorraine Benton, The Kiss

Your anniversary... A special city

Mark Fisher, London#1

Birthday present... celebrate a passion

Marcus Bolt, Sundowner

How to present your gift...

Purchase the piece in good time and then think about how to present your gift…

- Why not install the piece in secret and elude to the gift in a card with a message such as, “There is something a little different about the living room… shall we take a look?”

- Travelling? Keep the painting in the box it arrived in and simply wrap with paper that suits the occasion.

- Display the piece on an easel and cover with a piece of velvet to stage a dramatic unveiling.

- For under the tree? Wrap the art loosely with tissue paper and pop it in a giant gift bag.

To frame or not to frame?

The size and style of a frame is very personal. If the piece looks great without, leave it to the lucky recipient.

If you feel confident with your choice, go for it.

If you’re struggling, why not include a voucher for framing.

Little Van Gogh can help with all of the above including art selection, framing vouchers… we can even lend you an easel and velvet for an unveiling. 

Tips for outstanding well-being at work

Nutritional Health

Fruit Bowls

It’s old but it works. Making bowls of fresh fruit readily available is a great way to help employees achieve their five a day.

Recipe Group

Start a recipe group. Enabling people to share their passion for food can spark new friendships and encourage employees to think about what they eat.

Step away from your desk!

Encourage people to eat away from their desks.

Pineapple, Marcus Bolt

Pineapple, Marcus Bolt

 "Eating at your desk encourages mindless eating, and overeating," says Susan Moores, RD, (spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association).

Help people to take a break from their screens and to give their food the attention it deserves.

 

Social and Cultural

Art exhibition

Have an art exhibition in your office that changes regularly. By changing the art regularly you create a talking point that will encourage people to debate and share their personal opinions.

“Looking at and discussing art fosters creativity,” explains Chloé Adams (Director at Little Van Gogh). “It helps people to think in new ways and encourages people to listen to one another’s ideas.”

Eisberge auf Feuerland, Christel Haag

Eisberge auf Feuerland, Christel Haag

Start a club

Encourage employees to start clubs. It could be a book or a film club that meets monthly to discuss a set book or movie. This can help people to strike up friendships and can offer an opportunity to learn about something new.

Workshops

Organise an art or music workshop. Taking people out of their comfort zone can motivate people to support one another. Also inviting people to be creative is a great way to disrupt set thought patterns and facilitate thinking outside the box.

 

Physical Fitness

Provide showers

Make sure that people have somewhere they can shower and get prepared for the day post exercise. Many people avoid cycling or running to work because they don’t want to come in sweaty and dishevelled.

Fignon vs Le Mond, Rob Ijbema

Fignon vs Le Mond, Rob Ijbema

Gym bunnies

If you don’t have a gym at the office, offer your employees gym membership locally. It’s something that many people want to do but never get around to organising and means that employees may choose to go together and become chums outside of the office.

Sport and classes

Start a sports team. It could be football, netball or even a running club that meets once a week before or after work. Providing a space that you can invite a yoga or pilates instructor in to is also a great way to encourage not only physical health but also mindfulness and relaxation.