1. It’s so great to be *virtually* sitting down with you to talk about you and your work. As personal fans of your practice, it would be great if you could introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, it’s lovely to virtually too. Thank you! My name is Emma and I live in Hove. I’m an artist and also a mother. I decided quite last minute back on Dec 19 to apply to do a Masters in Painting at The Royal College of Art. I was elated to gain a place. I’ve now just started my final year and already dreaming up my final show…! Due summer 22!
2. Tell us more about ‘Elegant Complexity’, your current exhibition at the Pontone Gallery?
It’s a body of work that started in the early summer (2021) at the RCA studios there’s definitely ‘summer’ on the surfaces. ‘Elegant complexity’ isn’t a name I came up with but I’m hugely interested in the complexity of colour. I will never get bored experimenting and learning about colour. As the artist, Winifred Nicholson wrote, ‘Can your eyes see a hint of this unknown colour between the outer bright rainbow and its echo?’ I’m forever on a quest to find a new colour, I often imagine what it would be like, what it would be called and how it would feel. I read a lot of poetry and I write lots too. I write and then I paint and back again. I’m often thinking about films I’ve seen too and childhood memories. My most recent painting is called ‘Elphaba’ I was entranced as a little kid with the colour of ‘her’ skin.
3. Tell us a little about your journey into the arts? Did you always know this Was the career you were destined to pursue?
I painted, collaged and drew a lot as a small child. I felt most content creating – but I remember suddenly being able to draw in perfect perspective when I was about 11. From then it was always what I excelled at. Art college was a natural step. I did also like drama and I loved – you could say I was entranced watching figure skaters. This is interesting because I now see the studio as a stage and the surfaces like an ice rink, the colours skid and cut through the canvas like bright white ice.
4. Your work has an incredibly distinctive character and aesthetic, which our team here at PAOLITA can’t get enough of. How did you come to find your style?
Thank you! Style I think you don’t find, it’s within you already. Perhaps you excavate it – which of course takes bravery, you’re then bearing your soul to an audience. I’m a daydreamer. My childhood bedroom was always a soft blue, my childhood cat was grey and white, his eyes were green, bright, iridescent, his delicate paw pads were warm and pink. My grandmother saved sweet wrappers and I collaged with them often. Noticing the colour changing when I over lapped them or held them in front of the sun.
5. Do you always have an idea of what your paintings will look like, or is it always a surprise?
I think this was the gateway for me. It has to be a surprise, otherwise, I would be instantly bored. I never particularly got on well with briefs when I was on my BA at Chelsea College of Art doing Textile Design(!) my final show there was definitely more ‘fine art’ rather than ‘print for fashion’ 🙂 It was in fact an installation of my grandmother’s apartment.
A new blank canvas is the best kind of drug. What will happen? I don’t know but as the marks and colour start to appear I think about things. (The canvas), It’s a flickering screen, it’s a huge recording device, it’s a love letter, it’s a vessel, it’s morse coding to other worlds.
6. Do you have a particular process when it comes to painting? A playlist, a ritual, a memory that you tap into?
The only ritual really is a good tidy before starting a new body of work. Also on my walk to the studio, I’m thinking about the work, I’m trying to ‘listen’ often. Even as I’m drifting off to sleep I’m seeing colour pools and new brushes making new marks – problem-solving a current painting etc. I do have an extensive and extremely varied Spotify playlist that I can share with you if you’re interested (?!) I do love to listen to desert island discs too.