Esbe: Art Inspired by Women in Sport

  • Structure and shape can be the building blocks of any great work of art, however the composition does not always have to be representational. :

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 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.

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.

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.