Francesca Onesti is a current PhD research candidate at the Royal College of Art, where she also completed her MA Print. She is a recipient of The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant 2021. Her practice revolves around embodied experiences of remote natural environments and phenomena, investigating her relationship with them and examining the implications of (solo) expeditioning. These places are characterised by evident geological or glaciological forces, difficult climatic conditions and specific vegetation; precarious environments where atmosphere 'resonates' between body and surroundings. Her work reveals an ‘absorbing’ of surroundings, affective intensities, geological specificities isolation, detailed noticing, sensory receptiveness and scientific interest; and explores how to embody the complexities of these experiences as different elements are 'diffracted' through and shaped by each other.
Her autoethnographic research develops the idea of an 'expeditionary practice' where her practical work is the culmination of lived physical and mental challenges in reaching and experiencing remote locations or phenomena. Hiking and camping enable her to become closely involved with surroundings, subject to the elements, exploring the physical and psychological relationship between herself and natural materials. Authenticity is important to her in both experience and translation.
Her recent work has been developed from a solo camping expedition to the eruption at Fagradalsfjall and Krafla volcanic zone. Her previous research has been carried out in the uninhabited Icelandic Highlands; particularly into rarely occurring geothermal sites, the volcanic terrain of the Laugavegur trail, and geothermally active rhyolite mountains in Kerlingarfjöll. Her work has also involved mountain and coastal environments in the Canadian Pacific Northwest. Hiking the Laugavegur became the foundation of her MA dissertation ‘Ice, lichen and volcanism: the surfacing of atmospheric experience’, for which she was awarded a Distinction.
Developing an expanded print practice, she is currently working with etching, aquatint, lithography, hand-drawn photopolymer plates, publications and video, applying colour a la poupée, experimenting with effects of Indian ink and lithographic materials, and exploring the implications of merging haptic-optic perspective and the interactions between imagery. Processes of making are physical and involved; allowing direct and psychological re-engagement with place, shaped by a combination of memory and tacit knowledge; and are an ongoing engagement with visual mark making. The material nature of printmaking processes are an important element of her practice, reflecting chemical changes to surface such as geothermal ground alteration and allowing her to explore a strong attraction to geo-specific textures, structures and colours through its particular intaglio language.
Environmental concerns are relevant in the work. She invites haptic, affective and psychological engagement with the specific places and materials by presenting them through different perspectives, registering scale in different ways and suggesting a different type of involvement with these locations based in submitting, yielding and respect.
2022 - Royal College of Art, PhD Arts and Humanities
2019 - 2022 Royal College of Art, MA Print
MA dissertation Distinction
2016 - 2019 Loughborough University, BA Fine Art
First Class Honours
2015 - 2016 Loughborough University, Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
2022 Printmakers Council Sheila Sloss Award
2022 Intaglio Printmaker Award
2021 Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant
2018 Shortlist Leicester Society of Artists Student Award
2018 Shortlist Artists' Collecting Society Award
2016 John Mack Foundation Award for Fine Art
Exhibitions and Experience
2022 Clifford Chance Postgraduate Printmaking in London 2022: A Survey Exhibition, London
2022 Travers Smith CSR Art Programme, London
2022 RCA2022, Royal College of Art
2020 Teaching placement, University of Gloucestershire
2019 Work in Progress Show, Royal College of Art
2019 Fine Arts Degree Show, Loughborough University
2018 Making a Mark, The Manufacturing Technology Centre, Coventy
2018 DD/MM/YY, The Welcome Mat, Loughborough University
2017 The Current State of Affairs, Loughborough University Fine Art Gallery
2016 Emerging Talent Award, Melbourne Arts Festival
2016 Foundation Exhibition, Loughborough University
2015 Drawing Mela, Harrington Mills, Long Eaton