Magadalena Ganestam, painting, degree show
Image courtesy of Magdalena Ganestam

News 2 August 2020

Degree Show 2020: Meet this year's graduates - Magdalena Ganestam

Introduce yourself and your work. What ideas and themes are important to you?

I am Magdalena and I come from Poland. There are two strands to my work, which form a symbiosis. The funerary boxes are based on European reliquaries. With their development halted by the lock-down, I turned to painting stories inspired by poems and traditional songs. A journey to Orvieto, Italy has been influential to all aspects of my work, which is rooted in the European tradition: from inspirations, through the origin of the natural materials, to the patterns and symbolisms. Geometry lies at the basis of all I make.

What materials do you use? Why are they important to your practice?

I want my materials to be in coherence with what inspires my work, which is why I source most of them from within Europe, and as much as possible from the areas to which I refer in the works. Natural materials have an inherent beauty and vitality and a long heritage in art and craft, I feel honoured being able to use them. Producing my own pigments taught me to use resources thoughtfully and respectfully, and has given me a deeper understanding of the materials.

Describe your studio to us – what would we find?

My prize possession is my set of compasses and ruling pens, made by a now non-existent Swiss company. The essential palette of pigments, egg-tempera and inks is always around, as are printouts of whatever I find inspiring at a given moment. Books on European herbals, symbolisms of flowers, and pattern design I can never part with. An enthusiastic reader of short stories and poems, I keep some handy. I have three flowers in beautiful pots and usually some plants picked up on walks.

How has the lock-down influenced your work? What new things have emerged in your work because of the restrictions?

My paintings happened because of the lock-down. Unable to further the development of the funerary boxes from the confinement of my room, I found painting a form I could progress with. Travel restrictions, which were difficult for me to accept, resulted in two paintings with hot air balloons - a fanciful form of travel, these are perfect for imaginary journeys.

What drew you to the School, and what do you want to remember about these last two years?

I wanted to develop as a contemporary visual artist whilst remaining rooted in my tradition, for which I have a deep affection. The School gave me an opportunity to find such a path. I will remember the intense pace of learning in the first year, which took us through so many manners of working. It was exhausting, but thoroughly filling. An incredible foundation to take away and build upon for the rest of my creative life, for which I will remain grateful.

When we’re all able to be out in the world again, what are your hopes?

A trip to the V&A is high up on the list. I would like to revisit Orvieto, which has been such an inspiration to me. I am also much looking forward to the return of traditional dance festivals across Europe.