Dedicated to the memory of Lady Carol Djanogly.
Long-standing friend and philanthropist to the University of Nottingham and Lakeside Arts.
Eurydice Prevails is one of a series of inverted tree works Elpida has made over the last ten years. She has a continuing interest in that which is hidden, and has explored this through works including Ambush (New Forest, 2000) where she made a tunnel with glass ceilings for audiences to experience the forest from beneath the ground; Fragility (Fabrica, Brighton, 2015) considering the expérience de mort imminente and Making Beauty (Lakeside Arts, 2016), a project exploring regenerative medicine and the gut with art works crafted from the insides of animals.
To create her new work, Elpida used two dead Elm trees in inverted form, their roots reaching to the sky. The two Elms were originally sustainably sourced from University Park campus and a Gloucestershire estate, having been felled due to poor health. Elpida worked with University students, staff and members of the public to make the work using the ancient Japanese process of Yakisugi, a method of wood preservation achieved through the charring of the surface. The trees were then overlaid with decorative metallic motifs that trace the tunnel-like galleries created by Elm bark beetles, the carriers of Dutch Elm disease that is estimated to have killed and affected 25 million Elm trees since the 1960s. In Eurydice Prevails, Elpida has imagined a rewriting of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. In her version of events the heroine, unlike in the ancient Greek legend, successfully escapes Hades despite Orpheus’ backward glance.
In the Greek myth which has inspired our title, Orpheus charms his way out of the Underworld playing his lyre - his playing 'melted the heart of Hades'. We felt it was appropriate to add another sensory layer to this amazing installation and to this end have approached the renowned composer Graham Fitkin (Alumnus 1984, and Alumnus Laureate 2011) to request access to an appropriately atmospheric composition for the harp. Graham has generously allowed us to link to his composition Trace performed by the brilliant harpist Ruth Wall which you can listen to whilst enjoying the sculptures.
Composed by Graham Fitkin. Performed by FitkinWall. From the 'Lost' album.
Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva is a site-specific installation artist working across the varied media of sculpture, installation, video and sound, photography and architectural interventions. Her materials range from the unusual to the ordinary and the ephemeral to the precious; they include organic materials, foodstuffs and precious metals. Central to her practice is a response to the particularities of place; its history, locale, environment and communities. Recent exhibitions include: The Kilmardinny Tree, Kilmardinny House, Glasgow (2018); Internal Beauty, Grant Museum, London (2018); An Intimate Gaze, Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London (2017); Making Beauty, Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham (2016); Haruspex, Pavilion of the Holy See, 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2015); Fragility, Fabrica, Brighton (2015) and Silentio Pathologia, Pavilion of the Republic of Macedonia, 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2013).
Banner photo taken by Alan Fletcher.