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Preston artist set to exhibit in Prague

Posted on - 17th September, 2022 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, City Centre, People, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Things to Do in and around Preston, UCLan, Uncategorized, University campus, What's On in Preston
Gizelle Molnar with her collection of vibrant portraits pic Lisa Brown
Gizelle Molnar with her collection of vibrant portraits capturing spontaneous, happy moments spent with friends pic Lisa Brown

An artist from Preston is preparing for her first exhibition in Prague. Gizelle Molnar, whose vibrant portraits are currently on display as part of UCLan’s MA Degree show, has been asked to exhibit her collection of bird prints at a new gallery opening in the city. We went to find out more.

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Over the past two decades, Gizelle Molnar has lived and worked across the world, whilst studying various disciplines in the arts. From life drawing in Seoul to studying ceramics in the States, Gizelle has led a fascinating life.

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“I completed a degree in Ceramics eighteen years ago taught by Professor David Binns at UCLan,” said Gizelle. “I spent a portion of my degree studying at the Central Connecticut State University, in Connecticut, USA, as part of the Erasmus scheme. I learned throwing, where you shape ceramics on a potter’s wheel, under the tutelage of Professor Vicente Garcia, making vases, cups, and tableware.

“Whilst in the states I worked as a nanny for a man who worked at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Cape Cod. He told me about a whole ecosystem of micro-organisms that were frozen in the glaciers that had been lost as the glaciers had melted due to global warming. This is what I based my final degree show on, global warming and the lost ecosystem, creating micro-organisms in porcelain and hanging them from the ceiling.”

The Lost Ecosystem was created in porcelain and hung from the ceiling. It won Bronze and the People's Prize in the North West Art Show. Pic Gizelle Molnar
The Lost Ecosystem was created in porcelain and hung from the ceiling. It won Bronze and the People’s Prize in the North West Art Show. Pic Gizelle Molnar

As well as being exhibited at her degree show, Gizelle’s poignant installation was exhibited at the Chapel Art Gallery in Ormskirk and entered into the North West Art Show, where it won Bronze and also the People’s Prize, voted by members of the public who attended the exhibition.

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Read more: Students and staff celebrate the launch of UCLan’s MA Degree Show

Following her degree, Gizelle travelled the world with her partner Andy teaching English in South Korea, China and Italy, all the while continuing with her creative endeavours.

“I took a short course studying ceramics in Hungary,” said Gizelle. “And when I was teaching in Seoul, I found a studio in Gangnam. I needed somewhere to work and a man had set up a studio in a polytunnel, whilst he built his studio. I took a life drawing class every Friday after work and learned about leathercraft, making bags and different items in Itaewon. I’ve always drawn, sewn, painted or worked in ceramics.”

Gizelle returned to the UK, before the pandemic, to spend more time with her mum, settling back in Preston with Andy. Shortly after she began teaching art to adults with learning disabilities at a day centre in the city, which she continues to do.

“People come to the day centre and there is a choice of activities they can take part in. I went to an exhibition at Lady Lever Art Gallery, in Liverpool featuring Japanese woodblock prints from the 19th century. It was the first time these prints had been exhibited outside of Japan. So, I based a series of classes on these, looking at the patterns, I took some kimonos in and we explored and created Japanese patterned prints.

“When someone first attends, they may not sit with you for a long time but over time, they may sit for longer. You might need to sit with them and support them or they may wish to be left alone. I’m teaching how to use different paintbrushes and pencils, how to trace and use a ruler, selecting different types of paper and paint, and teaching different skills and techniques. I think it really boosts people’s confidence when they are able to work independently and see what they have created at the end of the session.

“People like different things, the bold colours in propaganda art really appealed to a lot of people in the class. We’ve looked at cartoon and comic book art, as well as different artists’ work such as Andy Warhol and Alex Katz, one of the artists I studied for my MA. When we first found out about the war in Ukraine, we looked at Ukrainian folk art and talked about current affairs.

Gizelle has enjoyed creating a series of colourful bird prints. Pic Gizelle Molnar
Gizelle feels that art and creativity can help promote confidence, and independence and help improve people’s mental health Pic Gizelle Molnar

“Some people who attend the sessions may experience anxiety or mental health issues and I think being creative when you are completely absorbed in one thing, you can’t think about the thing that’s causing you anxiety, it gives your brain a rest and then to see what you have produced after one session or a number of sessions, it’s a good feeling.”

During the pandemic, Gizelle was asked to illustrate a children’s book. Local musician Mark Whiteside had written a children’s story, based on his childhood, and was seeking an illustrator.

Read more: Preston musician swaps drum sticks for pen to write children’s book

One of the illustrations from The Car Gnome, a children's book illustrated by Gizelle and written by Mark Whiteside. Pic Gizelle Molnar
One of the illustrations from The Car Gnome, a children’s book illustrated by Gizelle and written by Mark Whiteside. Pic Gizelle Molnar

“During the lockdown, it was really difficult to find gifts for friends’ birthdays,” said Gizelle. “So, I started illustrating friends with their favourite things. I have one good friend who loves her cat, so I did a big head illustration of her with her cat. She’d also been on Radio Lancashire during the pandemic as she’d grown lots of aloe vera plants and given them away to people in her community, so of course, an aloe vera plant featured and she hates Prosecco with a passion, so in the illustration she’s watering the plants with Prosecco.

“They were just fun, stylised illustrations which people seemed to like. So, when Mark was looking for an illustrator, he told me the story and described some of the characters. I went away and drew and painted what I thought he would have looked like as a child. The next time we met he saw it and said ‘that’s me!’ and he brought a photo of himself and it was!

“It was the first time I had ever collaborated with someone and it was a really good working relationship. The book was independently published and it sold really well. We did some book readings at independent book shops and at The Larder. There are plans for a second book.”

Page from The Car Gnome
The Car Gnome features little boy called Joe and his Aunty Flo. illustration by Gizelle Molnar, words by Mark Whiteside.

After the pandemic, Gizelle decided to embark on an MA in Fine Art at UCLan, resulting in a collection of vibrant portraits celebrating good times shared amongst friends.

“The COVID lockdown changed a lot of people’s directions, lots of people took up studying. My mum had passed away, I was working nights and now I had the days free so I wanted to utilise my free time.

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“At the beginning of the year, you think of a project. I had all these photographs on my phone of friends, they were just the most joyous photographs, pictures of them doubled over with laughter, eating cake, sucking up noodles, you never see yourself doing that in the mirror but you see your friends doing that. I just wanted to capture those moments.

A selection of the portraits on display in the Hanover Building created by fine artist Gizelle Molnar. Pic Lisa Brown
A selection of the portraits on display in the Hanover Building created by fine artist Gizelle Molnar. Pic Lisa Brown

“The artists whose work I love and have on my walls at home, Andy Warhol – there are lots of pops of pink, Alex Katz, another artist called Andy Dixon creates these brightly coloured canvases and the two just married really, the idea of creating these spontaneous, brief moments in time in vibrant, saturated colours. After the last two years, with what everyone has been through, I wanted to create a collection of images that made people feel good, that caught the joy of the moment.”

Gizelle Molnar has created a series of stylised bird prints. Pic Gizelle Molnar
Gizelle Molnar has created a series of stylised bird prints. Pic Gizelle Molnar

Gizelle hopes to show A Brief Moment in Time at other galleries and would like to continue creating portraits to add to the collection. For the moment, she is concentrating on getting together a collection of work to send to Prague to be shown at a new gallery space that has just opened in the city.

“In day-to-day life, it’s so easy to push your creativity down, it becomes the last thing on your list but I think it’s really good to take that time to turn your mind and the noise of everyday life down and focus on creating one thing.”

Gizelle Molnar’s exhibition ‘A Brief Moment in Time’ is showing as part of UCLan’s MA Degree Show in UCLan’s Hanover Building, open weekdays 10am to 4pm, until Wednesday 5 October.

Gizelle is currently taking commissions, contact Gizelle gizelle.molnar@googlemail.com.


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