About Esther Rolinson

Each of her artworks has a starting point in drawings made by hand. In a sophisticated gesture, she constructs complex systems and forms that she later extends into three dimensions and light movements in her installations. Her language of drawing translates from the human senses to computer software as she places simple manual processes and advanced digital solutions side by side.

Esther Rolinson works internationally making immersive environments, public artworks, sculptures, screen works and drawings. She has had numerous solo exhibitions and has major permanent large-scale works in the UK. Her artworks are held in prominent collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

In 2016 she was winner of Lumen Digital Art Prize 3D and Sculpture Award and Art CHI First Prize with Dr Sean Clark.

Esther Rolinson will be opening her new artwork ‘Luminations’, a 500m drawing in light for the coastal town of Cleethopes in December 2021. She is currently Lead Artist for a new £100 million Surgical building at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, UK and is developing her installation work ‘Ten Thousand Thoughts’, supported by Arts Council England.


Esther Rolinson’s drawing practice forms the foundations for her installations. They are meditations on her own experiences through which she instinctively explores primary states such as freedom, trust and connection and, in tandem, their opposites. She marks out her emotional world as if she is drawing the physical syntax of sensation that communicates our most intense unspoken feelings. Through drawings, Rolinson creates systems of actions and that visually describe sensory concepts. Using the same actions in different materials, they translate as objects and movements, allowing the concept to be expressed in many different ways.

In her drawing process, she begins with instinctive marks from which the system of actions emerges. Gradually rules of construction surface which she uses freely to describe imagined energetic events. Some drawings are rendered meticulously, and others are like records of free-flowing acts that grow with unpredictable complexity. Her fluid use of rhythmic structures generates a quality of spontaneity underpinned by a precise complexity.

Installations and Public Artworks

Esther Rolinson’ immersive environments and large-scale installations, public artworks and sculptural structures invite the audience to participate in the artistic experience. Rising from her sensory drawing systems, she explores materials and technologies to fit each artwork. Her process naturally leads her into creative partnerships with technical specialists and she leads teams of manufacturers to make site-specific large-scale works. Through her enquiring practice she has worked within theatre, dance and festival settings and worked alongside teams of architectural and design practitioners. She has championed the importance of art practice in diverse environments, sharing a perspective on the transformative potential of art within design teams.

Light, animation and programming

The relationship between light and form is fundamental in Rollinson’s artistic research and it is a recuring element in her works.

'Light has an immediacy. We are literally woken up by it’

Esther Rolinson, Studio International, Caroline Menezes

Rolinson approaches light as a material in diverse ways, from simple digitally animated projections to complex programmed electronics. She uses it to bring forms to life, generating a sense of time passing within her three-dimensional forms. Her works are often a testing ground for new technologies as she finds precise solutions to animate intricate forms.

Digital technologies also play a part in her artistic language in a number of ways. As her creative systems take shape, she uses digital drawing techniques to understand the complexity and define patterns as movements. She manipulates her drawings for prints and animations, extending them as spaces and movements.

Rolinson’s action-based artworks are events caught in a moment. The motions described in forms can also be expressed as light patterns. She creates animations to programme light and collaborates with computer programmers to employ the subtle complexity of programming. The instinctive rules of construction that emerge through her drawings are formulas that can be related to a computational process. An element of her research in collaboration with Dr Sean Clark is translating sensory drawing actions into computer code; enquiring into the possibility of there being formula to our feelings.

Rolinson is in the process of creating generative works that will create evolving environments. In this new phase, she will be extending and growing her drawings as powerful imaginary landscapes that can be seen both within the screen and as encompassing spaces.