Maria Arceo

A Tale of Liquid Footprints and Future Dust

Artist Maria Arceo will share her innate affinity to water and intrinsic interest in archaeology and geology. Over the last twenty years of her career, she has undertaken a comprehensive study on the diverse ways in which human footprints manifest themselves within the environment in general, but more specifically into aquatic habitats. This search has taken her on a unique journey of exploration dealing with an unusual range of materials; from her earlier works with salt to her newly found obsession with the waterborne plastic debris of the past ten years.

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About Maria Arceo

Maria José Arceo was born in Santiago de Compostela, Spain and moved to London in 1984, where she graduated with BA Honours in Fine Art from Camberwell Art School and later with a Postgraduate in Art and Design Education from Goldsmith University.

Permanently based in London, this Spanish artist uses installation, sculpture, photography, and film, to explore close interactions between human manipulation of the natural world and nature's response to these interferences. From the early stages of her career, Maria's work has shown strong links with both her childhood fascination for archaeology, oceanography and science. Her passion for water led her to seek human footprints on all kinds of aquatic environments.

Throughout her artistic practice, she has participated in numerous exhibitions, film fairs and festivals. She has also collaborated with architects and scientists in environmental projects related to water. Among these: 'Biomimicry - coral reef ecoMachines _World Incubators' with ecoLogicStudio and the AA (Architects Association), in Dubai which culminated in the publication of the book: ’The World Dubai Marine Life Incubators’.

In 2014 she was invited to join an international group of 14 women as an artist in residence, to cross the Atlantic in a 22-meter sailing research vessel. The purpose of the trip was to collect samples of microplastic contaminants from the water's surface. These were first analysed onboard and then shared to a wide range of international research projects.

Supported by ten years of research on the issues brought by plastic debris on aquatic environs, and prompted by her trip across the ocean, Maria decided to create an interdisciplinary project that would bring the issue back to where it originates: our rivers and cities. Her project: 'Thames Plastic and the Exploration of Future Dust' (2016-7), became validated by Maria's nomination as Artist in Residence with Kings College London departments of Geography, Chemistry, Culture Institute and the support of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

From September 2016 to September 2017, Maria undertook an extensive program of events while setting herself the task of conducting as many beach clean-ups along the banks of the tidal Thames as she could, from Teddington Lock, all the way to the Sea. The project culminated with two installations; an interactive public workshop at Somerset House's River Terrace in June 2017 entitled: 'Plastic Lab' and the creation of ‘Plastic Dust’ a 12m x 4m lit installation commissioned by the 2017 Totally Thames Festival.

Since then, she has been involved in various events and groups shows, including one for the 2019 Venice Biennale.

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