Aug 10, 2011

Esther Neslen

1. Please tell us about the work you will be showing in the 2011 E17 Art Trail. Did you respond to this year’s theme “On Your Marks”? What impact do you think the Olympics will have on E17?

My work is called Sitting Around and it's a lifesize sculpture of two boys from my street sitting on my wall. I wanted to explore the dynamic of our street, who uses it, who observes it and who does it belong to. The boys play football and cricket out there any time they can, sometimes hitting windows, doors and walls, lobbing balls into gardens, negotiating with the cars for right of way. Although there is a link to sport, one of the boys is a really good footballer and is in in some regional team, I have no interest in the Olympics. I think there will be a short burst of excitement around the time of the Olympics, although we won't be the centre of it, and I believe the legacy of the Olympics will be little more than historical.

2. What challenges (if any) did you face in realising this work?
The main challenges I faced when making the piece have been practical: how to get the structure welded and where to build it. In the end these have been extremely useful problems to have. Through a friend of my brother's, I found a welding workshop in Hackney which is so friendly I don't know how to praise them highly enough (although I can't remember the name off the top of my head, I'll try and look it up). It's made it really easy to do this kind of work again. Also the guy who runs it lives in Walthamstow and is also taking part in the trail!
In the end I decided to work in the front garden where the pieces will be displayed and it's meant I've met loads of people - not just neighbours I’ve never spoken to before, but children who want to know how to do this, street cleaners, care workers who are working here, postmen…Everyone has their story to tell, and they're all very enthusiastic about what I'm doing.

3. What do you like about E17 and why? Is there anything you would change about the area?
I love Walthamstow. I love the diversity and the friendliness, and having the marsh so nearby. I’d like to see more art venues, more community spaces, the mill is encouraging, and of course, a cinema!

4. Who and/or what inspires you?
I'm interested in people. Sculpture is a relatively static medium and I’ve become fascinated with boredom, what keeps us staying in one place when we want to be elsewhere. That internal energy, frustration and sometimes rage, how it's expressed physically when we're still. I suppose more than anything I want to explore what it is to be human, here in this place with these people.

5. What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Hmm, really everyone works it out for themselves. We all reinvent our own wheels and it might feel frustrating, but there are no shortcuts. Really the only advice is to focus on the things that you absolutely love and be true to your ideas. Follow them through. It's the only way of making powerful art.

Sitting Around will be displayed at 32 The Crescent, Friday 2 – Sunday 11 September.


esther neslen said...

here is a link to the welding studio in hackney highly recommended!

Anonymous said...

Very sorry to see the sculpture in the bus station has been damaged and now removed ;-( my daughter who is 5, was so upset-it made me feel so sad for everyone who took the time and effort to try and being these works to the public