Spotlight Artist Adalberto Lonardi
One person who has been especially captivated by his work is the Rev Betsy Blatchley. She leads Nine Elms Arts Ministry, which brings together residents and community organisations around creativity, and is Pioneer Minister in the Arts. Blatchley has collaborated with Lonardi several times and has witnessed how his work sparks wonder in people first hand, while also seeing his genuine commitment to collaborating with local communities.
You can still catch his Follow the Star mural for Nine Elms Arts Ministry at art’otel London Battersea until 5 January, a modern spin on a nativity scene made with the help of local residents. Blatchley describes it as “a triumph”, adding, “At every step – whether researching ideas in community workshops, allowing the local community to paint alongside him, or inspiring other creatives – he has been a joy to work with and genuinely collaborative.”
Says Lonardi: “My vision is to use art and design as a tool for communion. Art has a common ground that enables different generations to start a conversation, share experience and grow together.”
He describes his permanent, 360 degree mural at the Katherine Low Settlement – a charity in Battersea – as his greatest achievement. It took a team of 50 volunteers from the local community 147 hours to create House of Love, which covers 105 square metres of wall and was made with 24 litres of paint. Ideas, words, and drawings were gathered from intergenerational workshops and then incorporated into the design, which tells the story of a multicultural community moving harmoniously through time, from 1924 to today, in celebration of the settlement’s centenary.
Lonardi’s influences are wide ranging. “I am inspired by Byzantine iconography, Italian Renaissance masters, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo, as well as Italian Metaphysical Art by people such as Giorgio de Chirico,” he says. But he also takes cues from more recent influences, including the Bauhaus school, the architecture of OMA, and the modernist graphic designs of Massimo Vignelli.
Tennis fans can see Lonardi’s work at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, where they will discover his series of four tapestries “celebrating the beauty of equality and diversity in tennis”, as he puts it, and evoking the icons, colours and atmosphere of Wimbledon. Each panel combines elements from drawings created by members of the Katherine Low Settlement, made by four textile artists in collaboration with the local community during sewing and embroidery sessions.
This year will mark a homecoming for Lonardi, who is redesigning the interiors of an apartment in the heart of Verona, where he was born, and producing a series of site-specific and multidisciplinary artworks at the intersection of art and design. The public will be given the chance to submerge themselves in his artistic vision for several days by renting the home-cum-museum for a short stay.
About the champion
Rev Betsy Blatchley is Pioneer Minister in the Arts. She also leads Nine Elms Arts Ministry, which brings together residents, businesses, and cultural, and community organisations around creativity, spirituality and wellbeing in Battersea, Nine Elms.