Joanna Lubonska

Joanna Lubonska is a visual artist and a set designer who graduated from tUniversity of Silesia in Cieszyn, Poland with an MA in Fine Art and Education and has participated in various exhibitions and projects since resettling at her current Edinburgh home in 2007.

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Throughout her work Joanna aims to find new ways of working with found object and disposable materials, using her skills to create immersive sensory experiences. Her latest exhibitions The Plastic Vortex (2016) and Polymeric Cave (2017) highlighted the fact that we live in an age of mass production in a throw-away society which is becoming an ever-increasing problem for our environment.

In March 2019 we invited Joanna to join our POLSKI project – the unique Polish artists-in-residence project which we have been curating at Abbeyhill Primary School since 2016. During her POLSKI residency at the school, Joanna worked on a new plastic-free oceans project with young 5 year old artists-activists from Primary 1. Through a series of creative and fun-filled workshops, the pupils seized the opportunity to transform over a hundred single-use plastic bottles, bottle tops and a few thousands drinking straws, collected by them and their schoolmates into aquatic artworks. 

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A collection of sea creatures emerged, including sharks, sea urchins and bubble fish. Shapes, structures, textures and colours were explored giving rise to a new collaborative artwork entitled School of Fish (2019). The children proudly used all their knowledge about marine life acquired through their environmental topic in the classroom and applied it in the creative process. 

It was a fantastic experience to work with such environmentally-aware young children, who at the age of 5 already understand the harmful impact of waste in our oceans to both sea life and human health. I couldn’t be more proud of my co-artists from Primary 1 with whom we created School of Fish (2019) – our under water world premiered to the public at the 14th Colony of Artists festival exhibition on 21 and 22 September 2019 at Abbeyhill Primary School. Made of over one hundred single-use bottles, drinking straws and small plastic objects we captured the devastation of plastic pollution on wildlife. Throughout our green arts project we even managed to transform into artworks over 8,000 plastic straws which Primary 1 and their schoolmates collected from their milk cartons before winning their 3-month long campaign for straw-free milk time.” Joanna Lubonska 

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“It was amazing to work alongside Joanna, our environmental resident artist and Catherine Gemmel, the first ever marine conservationist-in-residence at the school, who shared with us at the school-wide Assembly and then with a dedicated session in the Primary 1 classroom scientific evidence and stories of endangered leatherback turtles, basking sharks, sea anemones, shell-crushing starfish and jellyfish, beach cleans and bottle deposit schemes! It encouraged us to plan a summer of art activism and sea creature conservation!” Iliyana Nedkova, Curator-in-residence at Abbeyhill Primary School 
 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Joanna Lubonska’s artist’s residency at Abbeyhill Primary School in 2019 was curated by Iga Bozyk, Patricia Godula and Iliyana Nedkova as part of the ongoing POLSKI project for Polish artists-in-residence at the school since 2015. POLSKI is part of the wider residency programme for professional artists at the school established in 2013 | In partnership with Polish Contemporary Art Organisation and Marine Conservation Society Scotland | Facilitated by Catriona Howson, Sally Ketchin and Jeanette Wynn | Supported by The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh  | Abbeyhill Primary School and Abbeyhill Primary School Parent Council
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