Professionals & Artist Development

Elinor Lewis (she/her) is a performance artist based in Somerset. The work she makes straddles dance, live art and installation. She is interested in people’s attitudes towards risk, why people feel tense when confronted with uncertainty, and what happens to people’s perception of risk when states of tension are drawn out over long periods of time. Her creative practice seeks to playfully unpick themes of uncertainty, risk and vulnerability using bodies and precariously balanced objects. 

Elinor’s most recent work displays women defiantly occupying precarious spaces with radical acts of stillness. Her practice is driven by a want to reclaim stillness and silence as active, powerful forces for change.  

Elinor’s work, Orchard (with Nuria Legarda) toured internationally supported by Aerowaves, The Place, Arts Council England and Pavilion Dance South West. TIMBER, Elinor’s work-in-progress, has been commissioned by The Place and DanceXchange, and the first Research & Development for Elinor’s work-in-progress Plue (with Joe Garbett) was supported by Artsadmin and Arts Council England. 

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What are you most excited about joining the new group of Work Place artists?
After this surreal year of disconnect, I can’t wait to be part of a close-knit dancing community again! I’m excited to connect, share and play with the other Work Place artists. I’ve had a pretty insular year and like everyone, I’m itching for new artistic encounters and the kind of creative spontaneity that arises from the cross-pollination of ideas. I’m particularly excited to open up long-term creative dialogues with the other Work Place artists that will challenge me creatively and push me to further define my practice. I’m excited to see how these dialogues mature and deepen over five years and whether new collaborations bloom from them.  

Where do you seek or find inspiration for your work?  
I’m curious about people’s attitudes towards risk- What people feel when they see a glass balanced on a table’s edge. I’m interested in why we feel tense or thrilled and I’m interested in what happens when we deliberately suppress our instinct to push the glass back onto the table and sit with these feelings. I see this risky space where the glass is half-on-half-off the table as a charged, highly creative space. I make work that tries to recreate this glass-table-edge moment on a larger, performative scale. I want to shift people’s attitude towards risk and display what happens if we stand back to appreciate precariousness in all its glory without rushing into ‘correct’ it. 

What does it mean for you to be an artist in this day and age? 
Coming out of the pandemic I feel the majority of people will be recovering from prolonged experiences of precariousness. People will be processing loss, recovering lost intimacy, and relearning how to unleash in joyous splurges. I feel artists such as myself who have an intimate, lived understanding of precariousness and vulnerability, have a lot of bodily wisdom and sensitivity to share with others, that will help them navigate this ground.  

Art can be a radical form of self-care. It can work as social alchemy. It can be used to question, uproot, and unravel oppressive structures. Art shifts how we perceive the world and in this time of recovery and radical restructure, artists must guide the way forward.