From the workshops in 2023

ESW assists and supports Members throughout their artistic projects, offering technical expertise, facilities and work spaces, helping them overcome critical moments or find better solutions. Here are some of the most exciting stories from the workshops in 2023.

“It is amazing to see the variety and scope of the projects that have been produced by artists at ESW this year. It is even more impressive when one considers that this selection only represents a small proportion of the work developed at ESW over the last few months. From public artworks to artistic research, from monumental sculptural works to the synthesis of sculpture and lens-based media these innovative projects illustrate how ESW supports artists, enabling them to accomplish ambitious and significant work that is seen locally, nationally and internationally.”

Daniel Brown, Curator, Research, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop

Sebastian Thomas – ESW member since 2020

Collaborative ProjectA Tally of Distempered Parts with Tom Woolner, ASC Gallery, London

Solo exhibition commissioned by ESW for Hawthornvale Space – A New Face in Hell

Sebastian Thomas’ exhibition, A New Face in Hell, at ESW’s Hawthornvale Space ran from June to September 2023, Previously some components of this work were exhibited in London, at the ASC Gallery, during a collaborative exhibition made with the artist Tom Woolner.  Sebastian planned it over the last year. He lives in England, in Reading, however he came up to ESW “to use the furnace,  places like this don’t exist down here, there’s no open access sculpture workshops that do metal casting, not iron. It’s quite rare to find somewhere that does it.  I made the moulds in my studio, I finished them here”.

ESW supported his project all the way through these steps, from the graphite-coated, sand moulds he made in the Casting Workshop to the iron pour downstairs in the the Covered Yard and to the exhibition, visible from the street, upstairs at the Hawthornvale Space – the project was accompanied with a newly commissioned text by Aaron Head.

Thomas first got to know ESW as a Reach Scotland Resident and has returned several times, building up networks and contributing to the community here.

Svetlana Kondakova Muir – ESW member and project space holder since 2022

Public Commission 1 – Andover outdoor sculpture, The Dormouse

Public Commission 2 – Sculptural memorial for Almondell Cemetery in East Calder, River

A highly adaptive artist who has just recently moved into making larger three dimensional projects, Svetlana Kondakova Muir, finished two outdoor projects this year, “this was obviously exciting, but also a little terrifying” she said. ESW “had been absolutely wonderful; I cannot say enough just how helpful and supportive the staff here had been. Stephen Murray, the technician, helped me a lot, especially with assembling the dormouse sculpture, which was difficult. I was also able to subcontract Emma Hislop, who is an artist, a studio holder, and a part-time workshop assistant at ESW, to come down and install in Andover with me. I simply wouldn’t have a sculpture without their help”.

The technical team helped Kondakova through the entire journey from assembling the rigged aluminium structure coated with glass fibre to the public display. She had a project space, a quadrant of a large shared studio on the ground floor of ESW, while working on the project and this was supplemented at times with additional space to cut metal and assemble in the Covered Yard. Kondakova also used the Metal Workshop for bending the metal – her design was a faceted shape created within a digital programme, carefully translated into individual parts and cut from aluminium sheet. Kondakova reinforced the panels and then built a supporting structure within which each piece was attached around.

Kondakova’s next public commission came in no time, and ESW team planned with her all the steps, from the models to the aluminium pouring and to the public unveiling. This project, River, is a memorial arch for a cemetery. At ESW Kondakova created clay animals, a trout, an otter and a kingfisher. They clay ‘patterns’ were then used to create moulds. There were several phases of experimentation and finally ceramic shell moulds were made and cast in Aluminuim. This process enabled the character and detail of the original works to be carried through.

Oana Stanciu – ESW member and studio holder since 2019

Festival Commission – Hidden Door video installation, The Anthropocenic Garden

International presenceThe Anthropocenic Garden, Art Spot Korin Gallery in Kyoto, Japan

Invited by Hidden Door Festival to collaborate with a dancer, opera singer and a group of electronic and classically trained musicians to create an immersive environment for the festival this year, Oana Stanciu created a moving image piece The Anthropocenic Garden.

“After the Hidden Door festival, I reworked the video piece and added sound design to the images to have it as a stand alone moving image piece. The sound design was created by Stephanie Lamprea and Tom W Green who were the two main collaborators at Hidden Door.”

“Having the Research Space free for use at ESW helped me so much in making this video piece as I needed more space to install the green screen and bringing different sculptural objects and props for the performances. It has also been a great place to test video projection at a large scale and see how it might feel when it will be installed at Hidden Door. The other great thing about the Research Space is that it can be used by studio holders after hours and this has enabled me to work late and also leave the set installed overnight to continue working the next day. My studio has become quite full with items I’ve been gathering for my next project and would have made it impossible for me to make this video piece in my studio. “

Oana created her magical Anthropocenic Garden at ESW starting with installing the Chroma wall in our Research Space, which is a large white space where the natural light can be controlled, available for Members to use for testing work, collaborating and experimenting. She then used her studio for video editing.

Stanciu has also taken this work into an exchange project with artists from Scotland and Japan as part of an exhibition called ‘Synthesis’ which was exhibited this year at Summerhall during the Fringe festival and more recently in Japan at the Art Spot Korin gallery in Kyoto.

Yumiko Ono – ESW member since 2023

TOKAS Partner Residencyceramic, sculpture, and architecture boundaries, and ESW event

Summerhall exhibition – monumental wood inquiry into ideas of utopia

Originally arriving at ESW in April 2023 for a three-months residency organised in connection with TOKAS in Tokyo, Yumiko Ono came from Japan – via Brazil and Canada, working incredibly hard for different projects – she left for an exhibition in Russia, and she came back to ESW to prepare another one for Summerhall. She will leave soon for Germany and Portugal. What a year for Yumiko, and what a pleasure to have her at ESW not only as a resident, but also as a member and project space holder. As an experienced artist, Ono understood quickly how useful and reliable ESW can be for her projects’ development.

Ono was restless, making, building, explaining, directing, planning and changing approaches, shifting, starting over, adapting herself to technicians’ ideas, rethinking, re-building…

In the early summer she prepared work in her studio, including large maquettes made from toothpicks which enabled experimentation with linear forms, drawing out ideas from her largescale drawings. She worked within ESW’s Ceramic Workshop to mix clay to the right consistency to pour onto plaster worktops (called plaster bats), creating ‘waffle’ tiles. The bats absorb the water from the liquid clay to speed the drying time. These delicate plates were fired in the kilns on site. In tandem with this work, Ono was working within the Wood Workshop to cut her timber to very thoroughly calculated cutting lists, in order to construct two largescale sculptures in the Courtyard. The timber structure was adorned with the white clay waffle tiles. These were shared with the public (many of whom had been watching their progress over time as they walked through the neighbourhood) at an event on 16 June 2023.

Ono returned in September to take up a Project Space and work on a third structure, recycling her long lengths of timber into a series of 99 linear cubes, she worked on several variations, testing the strength and implications of different arrangements.

This work will be re-installed and re-imagined in November for a solo exhibition at Summerhall on the other side of the city which will run from December into the new year. This next project has come through Ono being in the city, able to make connections and get attention on her work.

“This is my series called Composition.  I wanted to make an artwork which could be made by multiplying the same kind of shape and could be completed with a small unit or a large unit. As ESW’s Courtyard is a huge space I wanted to make a large scale work. It is an explorative kind of project, it’s experimental, I didn’t know what the ending would be like. Without the support of ESW technicians, I wouldn’t have been able to complete this project.”