Marcelo is a creative practitioner developing public works of art that uncover social narratives while giving a space for reflection.
Marcelo’s art practice incorporates community co-authorship into installation, performance, and text with a focus on collaboration, participation, psychogeography, and community wellbeing.
His organisational work includes: Artistic Director of Applied Live Art Studio (ALAS) a social art practice studio; Co-founder Social Art Publications, an independent publishing collective. Marcelo developed and delivers the Central Saint Martins Short Course: Health & Wellbeing through Art Making. He is currently Head of Delivery for Public Engagement and Learning at the Imperial War Museum.
His exhibition From Birth till Death: Scrolled Life Stories at the Horniman Museum & Gardens was shortlisted for Museum + Heritage Awards for Exhibition of the Year 2021. His project Inner Rooms, Inner Minds was commissioned and acquired into the permanent collection of the Museum of London.
Edited from Interview in Elan Valley website
“The project that I’m bringing to completion soon is a kind of alternative companion guide to the valley. The book is 60 pages and is a cross between an art book, a walking guide, and a treasure hunt of sorts.
My interest was to produce something that reflected the many stories that hang like mist in the valley, and find a creative way to bring ideas of history, migration, flora and fauna, and of course the engineering feat that both changed and preserved this huge area into one pocket sized book you could take with you on your day trips out exploring.
The book is inspired partially by another short book The Vale of Nantgwilt: A Submerged Valley created by one of the dam engineers R. Eustace Tickell the late 1800’s. I searched for the spots he would have stood on to sketch the valley before the floods and did my own drawings from those locations. From this I was able to identify the changes in the landscape and impact of the reservoirs and protecting the site around them.
I also spent lots of time meeting people, chatting to residents, Elan Trust and Welsh Water staff, hanging around with the Rangers and having casual conversations with the walkers and cyclists who pass through the valley. This was all material that inspired the stories that are in the book, and each story is developed for a specific location where I re-created one of Tickell’s drawings but as seen from today.
One of the most meaningful conversations I had was with the landscape, I felt that this area was not only special in its beauty but had a specific energy about it that I wanted to describe as its own independent being. So there is a lot of anthropomorphism in the book. And following along the more esoteric lines I found a few ways to bring ideas of self-reflection, the magic of chance and numerology and even the tarot into the work. All of this really is and invitation to experience the book as an interactive work of art, one that helps fire your imagination while you’re out and about.
Getting to know the Red Kite has been magical, I feel a real kinship with this wild bird that’s a kind of underdog, rising from near extinction. They are such majestic animals and to have so many around creates a unique atmosphere I’ve never seen anywhere. My daily walks up behind the cottage will also stay with my forever, the house is situated right on a perfect path to a very desolate spot where I never saw anyone else in my morning wanders to greet the sunrise.
And Living off-grid was a lot of work, but I truly enjoyed it. The pace slows you down and keeps you focused on the basics of life: keeping dry, keeping warm, keeping clean. Its quite a chore the Rayburn as a housemate!
Finally the most magical experience of all was to meet such dedicated and enthusiastic people who live and work for, in and around the valley. There is such love for the landscape and passion about the place, it was a real honour to be welcomed and made to feel at home. I also began to understand more deeply the beautiful pride in the country that the Welsh have, a powerful uninterrupted history with a unique and strong culture that’s tangibly connected to the landscape.
One of the most exciting gifts the residency has given me is the opportunity to take my practice and situate it within a rural landscape and develop new models for producing work. It allowed me time to draw and write poetically and exercise a part of my brain that I often share with others but don’t nourish enough for myself. With the project I was able to learn a new way of doing both, which feels really important. I realise now that a true collaborative relationship nourishes both yourself and the other. So perhaps what I have learned is how to share with myself. This is real value of an artist residency where you can spend quality time being creative.
The book is sold at the Visitor Centre and at Carad and online. This was important to me to make something that was accessible yet special. I can see the real value of the art object that you can afford to buy and have, there is something special about that ownership and sharing. It has really been powerful to have this experience of the residency and to complete this special book for the valley.”