Thursday 13 August 2020
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Elīza Reine, Artist: Five things I would change about Jersey

Elīza Reine, Artist: Five things I would change about Jersey

Friday 13 March 2020

Elīza Reine, Artist: Five things I would change about Jersey


From her studio at La Folie, this daughter of a former opera singer spends her time transforming women's magazines into mystical paintings...but how would she piece together a bright future for Jersey?

Hailing from Latvia, Elīza Reine has been digging into her native's country ancient traditions for a new series of collages inspired by the celebration of summer solstice, which will be shown in July.

"Growing up in Latvia, the festivity has left an immense impact on artists world view and alignment with nature," Elīza explained. "Some of the traditions include women harvesting flowers and grasses from the meadow to weave crowns and decorate their countryside farms.

"Latvians believe that grasses picked during the Solstice have magical properties because it is time when nature is most active. The campfire is lit at the sunset and kept burning until sunrise so that the presence of light is not interrupted."

"The summer solstice represents change," the artist added. "It signifies the changing of the seasons, acknowledging  the part of the sun’s cycle and its impact on earth.  Celebration of nature around us is truly mindful and now more than ever we need to remind each other the importance of the alignment with it."

For Express, Elīza put her scissors and paintbrushes to the side to use her artistic flair to think about a few alterations for the island...

1. Let there be light!

An event I dearly miss living in Jersey is the light festival in Riga that takes place every year around November, lightning up dozens of buildings and landmarks throughout the city. Illuminated with photographs, films and other artistic creations the town's atmosphere is definitely festive and it’s a great night out for families, groups of friends or individuals interested in a diverse form of expression. 

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Pictured: St. Peter's Church in the old city part of Riga during the festival.

As the Go Wild Gorillas Project has proven, people in Jersey love to wander around the island looking for art objects.

It would be wonderful to see a festival or a project in Jersey that transforms the island into a huge exhibition hall experiencing large-scale art objects created by light artists in collaboration with local talent.

Video: Mont Orgueil Castle illuminated for the Branchage festival.

In a scale similar to the Branchage film festival, the light installations would definitely be beneficial to the culture scene by broadening local artists' perspectives, giving a chance to see their work in a large scale and medium. Of course an activity taken seriously would increase truism and everything that comes with it.

Browsing through internet I found a video of Mont Ogrueil Castle lit up during Branchage film festival. It stunned me and in the same time left me wondering why initiatives like these are not supported accordingly.

2. More studio spaces for local artists 

 I remember not so long ago when I invested in my art studio at La Folie. At that point, I wasn’t entirely confident of the necessity because I was able to work from home but quite quickly I proved myself to have made be the best decision.

Not only having a studio encourages artists to experiment more either with materials or scale but it immensely boosts confidence. Leaving meals and board games to my living room table and having a desk space in the studio just for making art influenced the process to be more mindful and serious.

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Pictured: Elīza's studio is based at La Folie.

At least I felt that. It is a place to invite future or existing collectors for a chat, host open studios and opens up many ways to promotion.

I couldn’t imagine my life without a studio space and it makes me sad when I see buildings like old La Folie pub with such a perfect location for an art collective to take over, being let down. There are quite few buildings left to crumble that with a loving hand would make a perfect space for creative development.

3. More accessible museums

Living so close to London, I often travel to see the latest exhibitions and museums. It really does spike my creativity and I believe is just a perfect way to unwind if the island feels too small, which it does every now and then.

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Pictured: The 'Museum of the moon' by Luke Jerram during the 'White Night' in Riga.

But when it comes to the local scene, not so much galleries and exhibitions but museums, I haven’t explored half as much. I don’t know if it’s because of the ticket price or marketing because I find the history and heritage on the island very rich.

I am not saying it should all be for free. I know that public institutions must sell tickets in order to grow and expand as we all do when it comes to business. But if there could be a day or two (maybe more) a year where all museum exhibitions on the island could be opened to visit for free, it would encourage people to see them more often.

For example there’s a festival in Riga called 'White Night' where for one day only all museums are opened during night accompanied with different talks and events across the town which I think is a brilliant way of inviting people to cultural activities. 

4. Embrace the power of art

For the last couple of months, I have a been working with young students at La Passerelle as part of ArtHouse Jersey's artist in residency program. La Passerelle is a small, short-stay, nurturing support team for young people in Key Stages 3 who feel unable to attend their mainstream school because of heightened levels of anxiety.

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Pictured: One of the mindfulness journalisms created during Elīza's workshops.

During workshops, we are learning how to bind books from recycled materials, creating mindfulness journals as our own reflection to the world. Visiting them every week makes me appreciate the real power of art and mindfulness within.

Sometimes art can express more emotions and connect people in a way words just can’t, especially in such a vulnerable state.

It would be wonderful to see more activities organized involving art that address the importance to be heard as an individual.

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Pictured: Elīza wants to see more creative initiatives address the importance to be heard as an individual.

We all hear about the danger of depression and anxiety especially with younger people that only just have started to develop their personalities. I encourage us all to be more caring and kind to one another.

5. Explore... it's good for you!

On the same note, mental health goes hand in hand with wellbeing and for me it is an active lifestyle and positive attitude. I often spend my days moving around in one square meter in my studio which isn’t the ideal setting. That’s why I try to walk and cycle as much as I can and avoid driving.

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Pictured: Elīza says cycling is a wonderful way to be closer to nature.

Unfortunately I find it a bit challenging to cycle not interrupting either traffic or pedestrians especially because of the narrow roads. Although we have several cyclist lanes around the island, there is a lot to improve for everyone to feel safe on the road especially if the activity involves children.

It is a wonderful way not only to involve sporting in our day-to-day life, but to be closer to nature.

I encourage everyone to go explore the nature gems this island holds, especially now when it is so important to align with nature as much as we can.  

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not the Bailiwick Express. If you would like to share five ideas to improve island life - or know someone else with some top plans up their sleeve - email editor@bailiwickexpress.com

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