The third episode in a series of thirteen questions, Thirteen Questions From Organ. The idea is simple, an ongoing series of thirteen questions sent out to people who’s creativity we’re rather admiring and enjoying at the moment – artists, musicians, film makers, cake testers and who knows who… This time a little closer to home with thirteen questions for English artist Emma Harvey, a painter mostly (and co-curator of those Cultivate events of course), Emma’s circle paintings are turning heads right now. Fresh from co-curating last week’s Fragile group show at Dalston’s BSMT Space gallery here in Hackney, here’s Emma’s thirteen answers…
1: WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Emma Harvey and I do various things.
2: WHERE ARE YOU TODAY? WHERE ARE YOU MOST DAYS?
At home, in a field, in the countryside, in my studio, with Daphne the rescue dog and my housemate blowing his trumpet
3: WHO OR WHAT IS EXCITING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Seeing all the women’s marches that recently took place on 21st January (St Agnes’ day) was exciting; a feeling of a momentum and groups of people (women) coming together. We need action right now.
4: WHY DO YOU MAKE ART?
I make art because it’s the best use of my time. I love to create and I love using colour. When it works, it’s truly exciting.
5: HOW DO YOU WORK?
Slowly…a large portion of my time is spent thinking, working out ideas, playing around with imagery. It can take weeks, if not months for me to finalise an idea before I even pick up a paintbrush. Therefore my output can be slow. The idea has to feel right in order for me to want to paint it; if I don’t have that feeling it just won’t work however hard I try.
6: TELL US ABOUT THE ART YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?
I identify with individual pieces of art from different artists at different times. The art I most identify with is usually very personal and affecting (to me). In particular the works of current London based artist Agata Cardoso, her work can have a profound effect on me. However, I also love older works of Tiepolo (Veneian 18th C painter) and Italian Baroque sculptor Bernini. More recently, I found Amy Kingsmill’s art performance ‘Bloom’ intensely affecting and I also really like the work of Casey Jenkins, Sylvia Lajbig, Johannes Kahrs, Cindy Sherman…there’s too many to mention.
7: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR OWN WORK?
I like that it’s true to me. As long as I have the feeling I need in order to work then it will be my most honest, true output that I can give at that moment. I like the ambiguity of it; I don’t have defined answers for what it is about.
8: WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR OWN WORK?
That it’s probably never quite what I envisioned. And, I really dislike having to talk about my work; it’s visual and I’m not going to constrain it with words.
9: WHAT HAS BEEN THE HAPPIEST MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE SO FAR?
Lots of moments….in general, just relaxing, being quiet and still, and warm in the sunshine, with my dog (or various pets throughout my life) alseep beside me has always given me a very deep and restful feeling. I enjoy being still and quiet. Then again live music and gigs can give me a huge high, at times there can be nothing to match it.
10: WHAT MAKES YOU ANGRY?
The way animals are treated as commodities and the way we ignore it is happening. The way it’s normalised to view some animals as objects without feelings or emotions (but cuelty to dogs and cats is abhorent – what hypocrisy!) The way we believe (are continued to be told) that milk is good / required and that piece of leather around my foot is fashionable without any thought about the individual feeling, thinking, sentient being that it came from, and the horrendous suffering it went through, and may still be going through, in order to feed our wants. The way women are forever portrayed in the media as sexual objects (and not just the media).
11: WHICH SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE AND WHY?
Flying has to be so much fun but invisibility could be very interesting…I can’t decide, both please.
12: WHAT COULDN’T YOU DO WITHOUT?
13: WHAT IS IT ABOUT CIRCLES ANYWAY?
Circles make you focus in, like looking through a telescope, just looking intently at one particular small section of a wider whole…like a cookie cutter, cutting out the important bit. I love looking intently at small areas, taking it all in, breaking it down, looking at the the edge of a cheekbone, or, a section of skin, seeing how it moves and lives, blood pulsing underneath, there is so much to study and look at, I find it fascinating. Circles just fit with that feeling of focusing in and they are such a pleasing shape.
Emma is busy with her ongoing series of circle painting right now, the first of the beautiful pieces appeared last year, the latest, the seventh, at last week’s Fragile group show that Emma co-curated as part of Cultivate. Emma co-founded Cultivate just over five years ago, she’s been exhibiting regularly around London over the last five years, according to her own website, “her work explores themes of sexuality and the place of women in contemporary society within a culture that overly sexualises women. Emma creates very personal responses to gender and female sexuality and her own understanding of body, femininity, and self”. We look forward to the next circles…. (sw)
Click on an image to enlarge or to run the slide show of selcted work from recent shows including the very successful Fleshed solo show in Vyner Street, East London, in 2013.