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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

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