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Spirits is a body of work by artist and Professor Lucy Orta, which portrays through a combination of sculpture and performance, the metaphorical inhabitants of towns, cities and regions.

Researching on location together with a team, the new Genius Loci Lucy Orta imagines and creates; interrogate the social, anthropological and philosophical themes of each location. Through the staging of on-site performances, or the re-positioning of the characters in the form or permanent sculpture, the characters and their siting provide surprising contexts to question art’s critical force in recounting and addressing the emergencies of contemporary living. The performances and sculpture become mediums through which can we re-encounter and re-imagine a city and its surroundings.

By crossing the boundaries between disciplines of sculpture, costume, performance, film and sound the Spirits project presents an interesting example of a multi-faceted approach to the visual arts, and which engages artists, curators and commissioners in dialogue, to challenge conventional aesthetics of people and place. Spirits draw a cultural and social map of the diversity of the inhabitants, and exposes, at the same time, the beauty and fragility of our changing landscapes.

Spirits of Rome - Fabulae Romanae

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… but I stress/everything upwards/strained and tested
between – between/man and woman or/earth and sky
as the Roman/awaiting that/Imperial thumb
in its Coliseum/suspended I/live or die. Mario Petrucci

The body of work Fabulae Romanae is both a filmed performance and a major exhibition, which depicts a symbolic excursus across the city of Rome through the eyes of a series of ethereal ‘sentinels’. The characters played out in the film and on exhibition in the museum, draw from archaeological and historical research, and observations on the cultural and social map of the city and the Seven Hills of Rome.

Fabulae Romanae was commissioned by Ermenegildo Zegna, ZegnArt, for an exhibition at the MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome (22 March – 23 September 2012) and supported by the University of the Arts London Centre for Sustainable Fashion, with the assistance of LCF alumni Mio Jin, Lara Torres, Oliver Ruuger, Sum Yu Li. Photography by Paul Bevan.

Spirits of the Huveaune

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Spirits of the Huveaune takes the form of five figurative sculptures, now permanently installed along the Huveaune River, which mark a trajectory and a re-discovery of the valley, which takes it source in the Provence Alps and ends at estuary of the Mediterranean Sea port of Marseille. The sculptures placed in unusual locations along the a 30-mile stretch, take on the postures and characteristics of women derived from mythology, legends and stories surrounding the history of the valley, which recount a fascinating feminine presence associated with the river.

Spirits of the Huveaune was commissioned by the community association Rives et Cultures in the context of Fondation de France’s Nouveaux Commanditaires for Marseille-Provence 2013, European Capital of Culture.


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Diana, formely known as Ubelka, the ancient name of the river Huveaune and a water goddess, was renamed in 2014 to reflect her current location at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Diana Beaumont lived on YSP’s Bretton Estate from the late 1700s until her death in 1831 and was instrumental in landscaping the lakes and gardens. The sculpture’s new name also references the Roman goddess of the hunt, wild animals and woodland, who was believed to have the power to talk to and control animals. This and Diana’s position surveying YSP’s 18th century designed landscape, alludes to the complex relationship between humans and nature.

Diana was installed to coincide with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park exhibition Lucy + Jorge Orta (20 July – 03 November 2013)

Enfants de la Villette




The Enfants de la Villette are based on children who frequent Paris’s largest and busiest urban park – Parc de la Villette. They were created to engage with three of the artists major research themes: Food Water Life, and through their postures and associated objects, draw the attention of passers-by. The three children were installed in the park grounds to mark the artists first survey exhibition In France.

Enfants de la Villette was commissioned by the Parc de la Villette, for the exhibition of the artists work Food / Water / Life at the Pavillon Paul Delouvrier in Paris, France (21 May 2014 – 21 September 2014).

Spirits of Alberta – Symphony for Absent Wildlife

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The public performance Symphony for Absent Wildlife, poetically addresses issues relating to deforestation and species loss. In this ode to nature, the once abundant diversity of wildlife from across the Albertan and Alaskan plains: Elks, Bison, Beavers, Moose, Wolves, Bears, and Eagles, take on the form of orchestra musicians, playing a symphony of birdsong using hand-crafted bird whistles. Symphony for Absent Wildlife brings a fragment of the disappearing natural environment, its sounds and the diversity of its fauna, closer to the city.

Symphony for Absent Wildlife was commissioned by the Nuit Blanche Calgary for a live performance in front of 15,000 people (20th September 2014). It will form an integral part of a major film to be concluded at The Banff Centre in February 2015.

A series of exchange workshops were conducted with graduates and alumni from the University of the Arts London and Alberta College of Art and Design Calgary. With special thanks to the team:

Camilla Palestra – Curatorial coordination CSF, Anne Karine Thorbjørnsen (Designer, MA Fashion Futures tutor) – Mask design,
Nicolas Blas (Intern) and Rachel Owen (MA Design for Performance) – Costume assistance, Gareth Mitchell (MA Sound Arts) – Sound-scape Nuit Blanche 2014, Sylvia Law (MA Sound Arts)– Sound workshop Banff 2015, Gareth Johnson (MA Film) – Workshop documentation, David Bickerstaff – Cinemaphotographer and Nuit Blanche volunteers in Calgary.