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The Cyclist

Bath at work: Estevan Mortensen, Street Artist

I come from Latacunga in Ecuador, South America. My father was a farmer but for some reason, he had to sell his large estate. We went to Spain where I finished my schooling. After studying at art school in Madrid I got a job doing huge murals in Las Vegas, paintings of the Grand Canyon and other American landscapes.

I love all forms of art – I love to create ceramics and sculpture and have a life-long fascination with puppets. In fact, they were my first love. I used to do puppet shows for children in Madrid. My voices for the characters were too loud, though, and I was asked to stop. A friend showed me how to get around the noise issue by introducing me to static sculptures. These are very big in Madrid, typified by high-end, sophisticated and elegant street performances.

I created my Travelling Man, a static sculpture I have often done in Bath, and this has provided me with a good living. The character is in some ways responsible for getting my family here. When we decided to leave Spain because of the economic crisis we got in a van and travelled through Spain and France. I earnt money on the way, via Zaragoza, Pamplona and Paris, by performing The Travelling Man. We left with 90 Euros and eventually got to London in 2012. In Paris they were stuck-up and London was too busy and expensive, so we went to visit my wife Gloria’s sister in Newport.

We settled in Cardiff for a while, but my wife kept telling me “Go to Bath”. I went to Oxford. Then I went to Cambridge. Eventually, I arrived in Bath. I couldn’t believe it. Wow. I loved it straight away. My daughter found a house to rent and within a week we had moved. Although I paint in my workshop as much as I can, I spend most of my time earning a living on the streets of Bath. It takes me nearly three hours to get ready to appear as The Cyclist, which is my latest incarnation. Most of this time goes on making up my face as the clothes are pre-prepared.

There are many techniques I had to learn to be a human sculpture. I practice yoga so that I am fit and can relax my muscles even when they are in active positions. I focus on breathing through my diaphragm and sometimes chant quietly to myself. I love what I do, especially people’s reactions. They can’t believe I’m a live person. They say, “Look, look, look!” I don’t blink. If I do, they shout “He is real!”

We still love Bath and its beauty but it’s the people that make it special. I never get any aggression or disrespect, even from teenagers. The work and its quietly meditative qualities is certainly a great contrast to the crazy home life we have with our two young kids.

Thinking of the future, I accept what will happen in my life, however, it turns out. One day I hope to have an exhibition of my work. This might even one day be possible here in Bath, my new home.

PORTRAIT: Neill Menneer at Spirit Photographic. 
Visit: capturethespirit.co.uk, tel: 01225 483151