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Story to start the week: Dora Lionstone

German artist Dora Lionstone joined us for an inspiring conversation about her work, inspirations and the past year. Two photographs from the series Cosmic Stream (2020), Dora’s graduation work, are presented as part of the exhibition ONWARD&UPWARD-Art in the Garden of Life.

The inspiration for Cosmic Stream derived from daydreaming about the mysteries of the universe. Experimenting with photography, Dora transformed the images from her mind into visuals. “I look at things and start to wonder ‘what if’? How can I transform something, what happens if I add different pieces?”

The work Catching the Moon is about the loss of gravity and a feeling of levitation. When looking up at the sky, Dora wondered if she could change what she saw into something she wanted to see. “It’s like the feeling you have when you’re a little kid that looks up to the sky and makes up shapes in the clouds and starts to imagine things,” she says.The pieces of fabric she threw into the air and captured with her camera, turned into dreamlike, momentary sculptures that trigger new associations.

The feeling of levitation Dora also associates with the saying ONWARD&UPWARD. “It’s something that is uplifting, like an inner strength that would pull you up and let you move forward, so it’s something very hopeful that we can hold onto.” This all came together in the suspended presentation of the scenography.

When making Flower Tower, Dora was thinking of replication and patterns in nature. The work started with a small piece of sculptured clay that she photographed, multiplied and experimented with until it became a work about growth. “Somehow magically this little thing grew into a flower, a kind of tower or sculpture. You’re not really sure what the size is anymore. It was kind of a happy accident.”

Dora strongly believes in the power and solace of daydreaming and in letting go of straight defined ideas. Especially in the past year, she felt a power in daydreaming. “We can really go inward, reflect more and take time to process things and expand our minds. We might not travel physically but travel mentally instead. It opens up your world.”

About the uncertainty of the past year she says: “Nothing is for sure, but this is also great, because then everything can be anything and you can start to imagine and dream. You can be surprised. This is something that we do as kids automatically. As kids we don’t really know when something is for sure, yet we are always surprised and find little wonders. I think it’s important to keep that for ourselves now.”

Dora studied photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Before moving to The Netherlands, she was a software engineer in Munich. Finding a balance in between the two fields, she recognizes in both the mindset of solving problems and working from small ideas and adding complex layers over time. Currently, Dora is expanding the series Cosmic Stream with painting and colour photography. doralionstone.com | instagram.com/doralionstoned