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Sculpture (MA)

Lea Rose Kara

Born in 1998, Lea Rose Kara is originally from Kyiv, Ukraine and now lives in London, UK. 

Before starting her MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art Lea received  a Distinction in her Foundation Diploma in Art & Design from City and Guilds of London Art School (2016 - 2017) and a 1st Class BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Bath Spa University (2017 - 2020). Lea has completed inspiring residencies at Porthleven in 2019 where she was a Prize Winner, the Freud Museum London in 2021 and the Standpoint Gallery  in 2022. Before Covid she spent her summers living and working in Italy - Venice, Naples and Florence - mentored by a variety of artists who are all specialists within their fields: glass artist Moulaye Niang, printmaker Roberto Mazzetto, sculptor Marisa Albanese and sculptor Matteo Lo Greco. This was possible thanks to receiving both the Bath Spa University International Travel Fund and the University Global Citizenship Funding. She was alerted to mentoring by a generous award (2018) from the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, through whom she was mentored by British sculptor Julian Wild. 

Lea has exhibited across the UK and Internationally. Please click here see her full CV.

Lea’s first solo show will be at the RuptureXIBIT Gallery in late August this year (2022). You can follow the link on her website to leave your email and be notified about the show closer to the time. 

Show Location: Battersea campus: Studio Building, First floor

My practice is primarily STEM-based and is grounded conceptually in biology, technology, and epistemology. I create sculptural works which explore themes of Ecology and manipulating nature through materials such as silicone, metal, fabrics, and found forest objects. Collecting sounds and materials directly from nature triggered the realisation that nature and organic matter were both my subject and sculpting material. My work is part of the Ecological Art genre which has evolved from movements including Environmental Art, Land Art, and the 1960s and 1970s ideas of Deep Ecology. My concerns around connectivity and reconstruction were shared particularly by Richard Long and continue to be shared by contemporary artists Olafur Eliasson and Katie Paterson. My objective is always to open debates around the power that science has in moulding our interaction with nature and our understanding of the world.

I am inspired by past academic research such as Martin Kempt’s concept of “every act of looking is an active act of interpretation”, as well as present research into fungi and the mycelium networks. I am interested in representing nature to the viewer through scientific methods of investigation, and I consciously move away from the factual and didactic into the more instinctive and playful. My exploration into ways of representing nature - through colour, smell, sound and touch - has resulted in multi-sensory installations. In my view the audience are collaborators, and through their engagement of a specific sense, they are triggered towards a more conscientious and intimate encounter. 

Nature’s BreathAn installation piece consisting out of three Bloom sculptures (blown glass and wool, 26.5 x 25 x 26 cm) three wooden plinths, several Cups of Information (silicone and viridian green pigment, 8.5 x 21.5 x 8.5 cm) 2022.
Bloom, blown glass and wool, 26.5 x 25 x 26 cm, 2022. Collaboration between sculptor Lea Rose Kara and glass artist Dovil Grigaliunaite.
Air pocket filled with ashes from the burnt wool.
Bloom positioned in between Ferns. Millions of years ago, ferns were amongst the first plants to live on land and contributed to oxygenating our atmosphere. In between the growing ferns, Bloom looks other worldly, as though a fungi from pre-historic times.
Preparing the tree resin with a full moon ritual. The ritual creates a balanced energy between the Earth (where the resin comes from) and the frequencies of the universe. Tree resin has an incredible history in spirituality and has the power to contribute to healing mind, body and soul.
Myrrh and Frankincense in particular help to re-aline and connect to masculine and feminine energy. An experience with the vapours may be a reminder of one of the strongest bonds that we all share with the Earth.
Vapour infusing into one of the Bloom sculptures.

Collaboration is key to my practice and my degree show work Nature’s Breath was developed from my Bloom project with glass artist Dovile Grigaliunaite. Bloom explored Grigaliunaite’s and my interest in themes of materiality, fluidity, and pushing the expectations of a static object. The collaboration triggered me to think about incorporating the sense of smell into my work, as I began to view the Bloom sculpture as a potential vessel.

I chose to expand Bloom into an installation of three glass sculptures. The vapour is infused with the scent of one of three tree resins - Frankincense, Mayan Dark Copal, and Myrrh - and fills up each glass from within, slowly escaping to the wider gallery through small holes. It evokes associations with the history of plants and organisms that have existed over millions of years. Set on a timer, the vapour machines breathe out the scents every hour, creating a rhythm of inhaling and exhaling that reflects our own breathing. Each glass vessel is set at a different height to allow people to differentiate the three vapours.

Cups of Information are placed around the plinths like protective vegetation and resemble water droplets on the floor. Once touched they transform from being solid like a jade bowl to wobbly like a jelly. The viewers become collaborators, and the previously static Bloom work is activated through their engagement, a more conscientious and intimate encounter.

Cup of Information, silicone and viridian green pigment, 8.5 x 21.5 x 8.5 cm, 2022.

A Cup of Information, seen here being touched, came from a happy mistake. This unexpected happenstance was experienced during the casting process, and translated into the viewer’s engagement with the piece. During a previous show, I had multiple viewers asking me if they could touch a Cup, curious about its translucent yet solid appearance. Through their touch their expectation was surprised as the bowl wobbled like a jelly. This moment of delight and connection to the object made me consider creating my own army of Cups of Information, which I later incorporated into my Nature’s Breath installation.

During this time, I was reading about our use of senses, with particular interest in the sense of touch. Ashley Montague’s ‘Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin’ and Constance Claussen’s ‘The Book of Touch’ were particularly interesting and established that “to touch is always to be touched”. By intentionally isolating a specific sense, I had the power to manipulate and increase certain emotions such as empathy in a viewer’s experience with the work, and potentially contribute to a wider engagement and new enhanced view of nature.

Evolve 2, virgin wool, wood, virgin wool dyed with blueberries, pomegranate, rose petals, hibiscus , petals, beetroot, 115 x 180 x 8 cm, 2022.
My Evolve 2 piece echoes ideas of rituals, the occult, and healing plant practices. The hemispheres are suggestive in their shape of an opening, a breast, genitalia. They are positioned like hills in the landscape or constellations in the sky, a soft seductive wool material in shades of red and pink.
Birth Pod amongst the collected spring flowers that were used to dye the wool for the Evolve piece.Rituals, the occult and healing practices using plants became gradually more relevant in my selection of forest elements during the dyeing processes. Working directly with the social and spiritual ideologies of Mother Nature fascinated me, in particular the juxtaposition of her power to end life through disease or harsh conditions and to give birth.
My discovery of the occult magazine CLAVIS introduced me to traditions of plant Magick and highlighted that pseudoscience in the form of Magick is an exciting ingredient to incorporate into my practice. I use the archaic spelling of Magick here to make specific reference to the occult, Wicca and spells rather than the contemporary reference to ‘stage magic’ or a ‘magic trick’.

Thinking about the land, rocky outcrops and soft voluptuous contours were on my mind from a trip across the Yorkshire Moors and the Peak District. I borrowed these as landscape in the Evolve work to create suggestions of ripples in water, topography, or the meditative practices of the East like sand art. I wanted the work to have both a micro and a macro quality, with the looseness of the wool suggestive of a indigenous aesthetic linking traditions of working and respecting the land, animals, and the spirits amongst us.

Echoes of the Mind #1 and Echoes of the Mind #2 being exhibited in ‘The Running Water Takes Me to a Farther Lake’ at the Meisyakan in Ningbo, China.
Echoes of the Mind #1 and Echoes of the Mind #2, white matte Perspex and shiny black Perspex, matt black Perspex and shiny white Perspex, 59 x 1.5 x 49 (each), 2021.

Responding to an exhibition theme of Memory and Dreams, in preparation for a touring show in China, I created Echoes of the Mind #1 and #2. I was exploring ideas of consciousness and unconsciousness, and I created the drawings whilst blind-folded and freely responding to music. The idea of communication and language - symbolic, literal, or suggestive - is interesting to me and by presenting this ‘line-work’ in China first, I am exploring the symbiosis of alphabet and art.

I am currently expanding the Echoes idea into a work-in-progress series. In my forthcoming solo show in RuptureXIBIT the audience will be able to walk around the work, represented as hanging scrolls in the exhibition space. Each scroll has a small custom-made bronze weight attached to it, a cast of a combination of organic materials that I collected in the forest during my walks. The work will be supported by a soundtrack that Is composed of different land and underwater sounds.

Footsteps, wax, pinecone, moss, leaves, bark, grass and flowers, 62 x 5 x 40cm, 2021.
Footsteps installed In front of a fire place in the First Impressions exhibition in Safehouse, London, UK.

The Footsteps sculpture consists of individual tiles made from wax and organic materials. Like those used as decor in houses, the tiles are symbols of a forest floor being walked on without consideration, however as artworks in the floor of a room they are respected and walked around. I used wax to preserve the organic matter and by mixing it with hot wax and moulding it in water, I give it reconstructed significance. When Footsteps is installed into a gallery’s floor, it plays with the concept of taking a step, and the viewer’s hesitation to walk on the tiles brings attention to the delicacy and importance of nature beneath our feet. 

Traces, acrylic and painted wood, 17 x 17cm, 2022.

Traces is an artwork that has been developed from a research project that I did at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. I worked with a palaeontologist who specialised in tree resin that had captured small insects. I found this exciting as conserving animal traces in tree resin is close to what an artist does whilst casting and mould making, preserving ideas and objects in art form. The image used to create Traces is based on a Chondrites fossil, part of the Trace Fossils sub-section in palaeontology. Trace fossils are fossils depicting a footprint, trail, burrow, or other traces of an animal rather than the animal itself. The fossil that I was focused on is thought to come from a small worm, and captures the tunnels that the animal was making. This fossil is unique because the planetary conditions in oxygen and moisture level had to be perfect for it to be created in the first place, and preserved today; the fossil may have special value if an ancient billion year old worm brings us a step closer to closing to understanding the evolutionally process. 

Sun, organic cotton dyed with turmeric, seasonal flowers, blueberries, moss and bark, 85 x 28 x 58 cm, 2022.

The Sun piece represented my first sculptural exploration into incorporating colour into my work though bundle dying collected forest matter and cooking spices, onto textile-based materials like cotton. I could see nature as both my subject matter and my sculpting material. The recurring hemispherical and spherical shapes throughout my work are a direct inspiration from existing spheres in nature, such as eyeballs, flowers like the seed head of a dandelion, planets and cells. The shapes carry themes of containment and expansion and in my Sun work, the shape offers a multiplicity of meanings from a heavily pregnant belly to a bacterial growth on a wall. It is designed to reflect both the positive and negative.

Freud and Daughter: a deconstructed spectacle, digital sculpture, 33 x 24 x 11 cm, 2021. The sculpture is placed on a table on the half landing between Freud’s study on the first floor and Anna’s room on the second floor.

The Freud Museum virtual residency last year opened my eyes to the potential for virtual and hypothetical sculpture. Being able to work with an existing museum object was an exciting and rare opportunity. I chose to explore a small jade brooch that Sigmund Freud had gifted his daughter Anna as a way of showing his professional respect for her contribution to the field of psychoanalysis.

Celebrating Sigmund and Anna Freud's intriguing relationship, their professional achievements, and their ability to provide both children and adults with a new outlook on inner world feelings, I deconstructed the brooch and presented it as two jade hoops positioned as a lens through which viewers would could 'hypothetically' look.

In October last year I organised and curated my first ever event, a show called Art for Artists where I exhibited 27 artists including myself, and showcased 30 artworks comprised of paintings, sculptures, videos and mixed media. Exclusively open to the participating artists and 10 selected guest curators, this exhibition was not intended to promote artworks to the public, but instead to bring artists together to discuss each other’s practice and by the end of the night exchange works by mutual agreement.

The event was successful and something that I will develop, perhaps doing annual or bi-annual shows to actively build new networks and relationships between galleries, artists, and curators.

Click here to see the website