Working across sculpture, installation and site-specific interventions, Engel Leonardo addresses issues related to climate, nature, traditional crafts, architecture and popular culture of the Caribbean. Of particular interest in his work is the production of objects, and their embedded psychological and sociological functions. Through a process of research and observation, Leonardo responds directly to his environment, from the city of Santo Domingo, where he lives and works, to the peripheral urban areas and remote rural communities of the Dominican Republic.
During his residency at Gasworks, Leonardo developed the project Azúcar, tabaco y ron, an investigation into commerce in the British colonies of the Caribbean, as a trigger for the Industrial Revolution. Through an engagement with institutions throughout the UK housing archives related to the period, the project considered the primary commodities traded in the area as the main protagonist of the transformation of Britain into the first industrialised nation, establishing the basis for a new global economy, Capitalism, and a new historical narrative, Modernity. For the Open Studio event, Engel presented Anil, a series of new sculptures that used Mayan Indigo dye on English cotton.
Engel Leonardo lives and works in Santo Domingo. Recent exhibitions include A great event is in the making. But no one has noticed, Intelligentsia Gallery, Beijing (2016); High and Local Villa Consuelo, Sindicato, Santo Domingo; TXT, Instituto de Visión, Bogotá; United States of Latin America, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; Focus Latin America, ARCO, Madrid (all 2015); Rejas, Sillas, Vestidos, Muñecas y Plátano, Museo del Hombre, Santo Domingo; Pedernales, Teorética, Costa Rica (both 2014); Under Construction, William Road Gallery, London (2013); and On Common Ground, AMA, Washington D.C. (2012).
Shelagh Wakely (1932 – 2011), was a British artist whose experimental practice combined visual art, sculpture and design with architecture. Wakely travelled widely in South-America, with special interest in Brazil, and her residence in London became a meeting point for Brazilian and Latin American artists.
The Elephant Trust administers the Shelagh Wakely Bequest, and the Shelagh Wakely Residency has been created in partnership with Gasworks to provide an emerging artist from Latin-America with a three-month residency opportunity in London.