It all started with
"Mummy, what would happen if we put a rock and an animal in a box and we combine all the molecules?"
In February 2022 while living in the French Alps, artist Arabel Lebrusan made Februalia, a series of drawings that combine crystals and animals to form rabbit-crystal, woman-crystal and other hybrid forms. During this time, she was surrounded by nature and listened to talks and lectures about hydrofeminism, ‘other ways of knowing’, deep sea mining, ecology and alchemy in the art as part of her wider artistic inquiry.
Throughout Lebrusan’s residency at In Transit, she has been realising these drawings into 3-D forms, as well as exploring how audiences can better engage with the sculptures in a digitally accessible way. She has been travelling to different sites to find rocks and soils to experiment with, use and combine with soap and decorative objects from a TV studio set she has been keeping for 15 years!
Humans are embedded in a complex, interwoven web of materials, all effecting each other, competing, forming alliances, initiating new processes and dissipating others. This web knows no bounds between living and non living, human and non human — all matter is pulsing with life and they all have the potential to hold memories. Lebrusan believes that handling materials play a crucial role in unlocking those memories, activating empathy and reaching an understanding that we are not separate from the Earth but are one.
Can art making activate our empathy at a deeper level than our rational understanding of events, and urge us to act? Will we be more empathetic once we understand that we are interconnected with Nature?
Lebrusan presents Rock Hybrids, digital collages in which she has placed the hybrid sculptures in everyday settings of London. She aims to inspire change within the individual by making subjects relevant to them, encouraging them to think about the world through the lens of familiar materials.
Watch Arabel Lebrusan source for her materials
Lebrusan’s works always harbour a deep connection to the visceral and are often suggestive of the females that she grew up around. Women would butcher chickens in the backyard for lunch. Minutes later, they’re walking down to the river to hand-wash dirty clothes, using soap homemade from recycled cooking oil.
To her, the female energy is sensual; tactile, doubled-edged, bursting with vitality and defined by alchemy. Lebrusan has inherited a range of skills and crafts from her ancestors which have greatly influenced and informed her artistic practice and processes.
The language of craft – of highly skilful craftsmanship – allows me to seduce the audience and make complex concepts appealing and accessible. It scales my ideas down to a relatable domestic scale, creating an intimate dialogue. Channelling large social, economic and political agency through the medium of intimacy is really important to me.
– Arabel Lebrusan
I’m fascinated by the ways materials carry inherent meaning and how that meaning can be transformed; moulded; reshaped. I’m interested in the power of the object; the idea that matter can vibrate and communicate with us as human beings.
- Arabel Lebrusan
Arabel Lebrusan is a visual artist working in sculpture and jewellery and based in the UK. Focusing on transforming materials into physical metaphors — such as toxic mercury from small scale gold mining into a child’s tinny hand — she seeks to amplify the voices of the people and the land falling through the cracks of the system. She has exhibited and created site-specific installations at The Higgins Bedford (2021); Brighton CCA (2021); Women’s Support Centre, Surrey (2021); Museum of St.Albans (2015); St.Paul’s Square, Bedford (2012); Art in Fuse, Rotterdam (2005); Lunâ Art Collective Gallery, Cebu (2004); Gesundbrunnen bunker, Berlin (2000). Her TEDx talk on ethical jewellery and her latest campaign raising funds for Global March against Child Labour are examples of her international campaign work. She was also awarded Designer of the Year (2017) by the National Association of Jewellers, UK and was the winner of Eastern Approaches (2014) at UH Galleries, Museum of St.Albans