Maria Jose Arceo is a Spanish artist based permanently in London, who uses installation, sculpture, photography and film to explore close interactions between the human manipulation of the natural world and Nature’s response to these interferences.
From the early stages in her career, Maria’s work has displayed strong links to her childhood fascination with both archeology and oceanography. Her passion for water led her to search for human footprints upon all sorts of water environments. In one of her first line of works (1992), she used salt crystals to highlight problems of man induced desertification and in particular, the then almost extinct Aral Sea in Central Asia, formerly one of the four world’s largest lakes.
Soon after leaving Camberwell College of Art and taking part in a group exhibition at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the artist suffered a traumatic spinal accident and had to undergo severe physiotherapy treatments to recover the full use of her legs. Her first solo exhibition titled ‘Circuitous’ maps her recovery process and took place at Robyn Denny’s London studio in (2007).
Since then, as well as taking part in numerous Art exhibitions & Film fairs, she has collaborated with architects and scientists on water related environmental projects. These include the Biomimicry-based: ‘ecoMachines _World Dubai Marine Life Incubators’, with EcologicStudio & the AA Architects Association; ‘Empooling Landscapes’, with UEL exploring the effects of salt crystals on potential building materials for the erection of various structures within the marshlands of the ‘Coto de Doña Ana National Park’, in Andalucía.
Beachcombing and mudlarking the Thames for links to past and future, has led her to a new found obsession with the long-term impacts of plastic debris entering both fluvial and marine environments. Her latest line of works is made with these discarded plastic objects collected from several locations on the Thames and various coast lines. Her sculptures stand as visual evidence to the long lasting properties of these discarded and often single- use- intended polymers.
In 2014 Maria was invited to take part in ‘Gustav Metzger: Facing Extinction Platform’ Conference as a guest speaker on the ‘Global Systems: Food & Water Panel’ and to act as chairperson on the ‘Biodiversity Panel’. As a direct outcome of her participation with Facing Extinction, Maria was asked to join a crew of 14 women as artist-in-residence sailing across the Atlantic on a scientific exploration on the effects of plastic debris on the human body and water environments.
Since then, Maria has participated in a number of far reaching events, including ‘The Fall Of the Rebel Angels’ during the 56th Venice Biennale; The “V Encontro de Artistas Novos” curated by Rafael Doctor at the ‘Cidade da Cultura’ in Santiago de Compostela, (Spain); a participatory installation for ‘Somos Mar’, (following several beach clean-ups of the Galician coast) at the “II Festival Mar De Mares” in La Coruña; And recently joining the ArtCop21 global programme of events with ‘Plastic Seas’, a film & performance collaboration with Susana Sanromán that was curated by the ‘SpainNOW’ Festival in London.
At present, Maria is working on some new responses to her expedition experience and large-scale sculptural installations involving wider interaction with the public and cross-curricular collaborations.