Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

(b. 1971), trained at Glasgow School of Art and the RCA. She has received awards including from the Wellcome Trust, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Arts Council England and Ministry of Culture of Macedonia. She has represented Macedonia at the Venice Biennale and was commissioned by the Vatican as part of the Pavilion of the Holy See, at the 56th International Art Exhibition. Other commissions include works for University of Nottingham; Djanogly Gallery; Daniele Arnaud Gallery, London; Nymans Gardens; Fabrica, Brighton; Mottisfont Abbey; Gloucester Cathedral; Bennachie, Aberdeenshire; L’H du Siège, France; and Kilmainham Gaol Museum, Ireland. 

 

Artworks in public collections include at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art; New Hall Art Collection, Cambridge; The Vatican; Office of Public Works, Ireland; Križanke, Ljubljana; Casoria Contemporary Art Museum, Naples, as well as private collections around the world.

Transforming the felled Preston Twin

Acclaimed sculptor, Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva, who is included in 'In Nature', the 2022 exhibition in the Secret Garden Kemp Town, will now show a second large scale piece. 

Brighton & Hove is host to the National Elm Collection, thanks to the Council’s arboreal expertise. The Brighton ‘Preston Twins’, in Preston Park, considered to be amongst the oldest elms in the world, were planted around 1613, during James I‘s reign, when Shakespeare’s plays were first being performed. 

Until 2019, they stood together majestically, having avoided contamination by Elm Disease through the stringent control measures adopted by Brighton & Hove City Council. A storm in 2017 exposed a hollow trunk in one of the ‘twins’, and thereafter the disease spread within. In 2019, the Council had no option but to fell this magnificent specimen, but they were determined not to lose this national treasure. 

Alister Peters, an immensely experienced consultant for Connick Tree Care, seconded to the Council to assist in identifying infected trees, and arranging for their removal to stop the spread, was keen to give the Preston Twin an opportunity for an artistic after life. He arranged for the stem to be transported to Waterhall Sports Ground for temporary storage and invited Elpida to the site, as she de-barks and chars dead elm trees, which she then gilds, converting them into sculptures of exceptional beauty. Alister and Elpida agreed that she would be able to give the tree new ‘life’ so that, hopefully, it could eventually be reunited with its twin in Preston Park, as a major artwork. Since this tree is too large for most studio spaces, Gavin Henderson agreed that she could work on it in the Secret Garden. 

The transportation of the elm from Waterhall Sports Ground to the Secret Garden was a very skilled job – full of drama. A special brace was made to support the tree, and the transportation was managed by Alister and additional professional specialists.  The team showed breath-taking expertise as they craned the tree over the tall open gates of the Secret Garden. The elm was then eased down the entrance slope. It is now standing upright and Elpida is working on it.  The elm transformed will be a star exhibit in next year's show.