Elyssa Sykes-Smith (b.1991, Australia) is an interprofessional, multidisciplinary artist working across public art, sculpture, installation, performance, socially engaged projects, education, and health research. In creating art for public space and designing participatory projects Elyssa seeks to distil complex, psychological states into multi-sensory experiences incorporating art practice, technology, architecture, psychology and the sciences. When the sculpture not only responds to a site but also brings it to life through the appearance of frozen movement, a dynamic relationship is created between the audience, artwork and surrounding environment. Key concerns involve encouraging her audience to experience an environment from an altered perspective and connecting to an artwork and the associated conceptual framework through a visceral, embodied response.
The motif of the sculpted figure to enhance architecture and public space has been used as a form of expression throughout history, proving to generate great emotive power which the public can easily relate to. Elyssa’s artworks present a contemporary development of this lineage, particularly inspired by the Baroque period. She seeks to translate the expressive qualities of the figure, exploring form, space and movement pushing the figure towards abstraction to explore issues of and experiences of humanity. Playing on the divide between the abstract and representational, her artworks are constructed through the use of multiple abstract forms in various materials, colours, and light to model the figure.
Professional sculpture experience includes the completion of many permanent and temporary public, corporate and private commissions. Elyssa is a passionate communicator and works well in teams to achieve ambitious projects. Dedicated to deepening her practice and developing her work for social benefit, Elyssa continues to advocate for human rights and environmental sustainability utilising the tools of art, research and education.
Arts education and leadership experience include as a lecturer at the National Art School (Sydney); Sculpture by the Sea (Bondi, Cottesloe) as an educator, facilitator and tour guide working with disadvantage communities, disabilities, refugees and sponsors; delivery of public workshops in alignment with various councils, private malls spaces, and festivals; and delivery of uniquely designed artist in residence sculpture projects and workshops with an educational approach at many schools. Research work incorporates a participatory approach, situated within the field of qualitative research, using arts-based processes to research the psychological impacts of the global climate crisis.
Qualifications include MFA (Distinction) at the Architectural Association School of Architecture London (2021), and BFA (Hons) in Sculpture at The National Art School Sydney (2013). Exhibition highlights include Next Big Thing TV series on London Live and former Design Museum (2021); Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi (2012-17) and Cottesloe (2015-18); and solo show at the Shoalhaven Regional Art Gallery (2019). Awarded Creative Development Fellowship, Create NSW (2018); First Prize at Hillview Sculpture Biennial (2018); First Prize and People’s Choice Prize at Sculpture at Scenic World (2015); and Clitheroe Foundation Mentorship (2012). Commissions include Shoalhaven Public Art Grant 2017 (Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre); Barangaroo Delivery Authority; MIRVAC (Chinese New Year 2017, Broadway Sydney) and (Green Square); Wollongong City Council; and Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney.