Well it had to happen sooner or later! I decided to make my own interview the last of the year – The next one after this will be Sunday 5th January! So yes… they will be continuing way into 2020 and beyond! I thought, best get me done for the last one of 2019!
First of all, who are you?
Hello my name is Emily – Emy, Em… Emily? I always think I am being told off when people use my full name! I live in the wilds of North Devon but originally from SE London, born a few weeks early in Lewisham hospital, my mother discharged herself as she hated it and I my first years were spent with a seal point siamese cat called ‘Pepper’ which was my first word not ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ but a cat… animals were going to feature strongly in my life even at a very early age!
I always loved art – I painted a piece which I entitled ‘Raindrops’ at the age of 5 which was displayed pride of place at ‘reception’ at the school I spent my entire life from the age of 5 – 18 – Holy Trinity Convent (College) – yes we wore straw hats, pig tails, stripy jackets and played hockey – we were the true St Trinians! Anyway… I’ve always wanted to be an artist – I loved drawing birds as a child but sort of grew out of it and by the time I entered art college, it was abstract all the way, so it has been in the last 3 years or so that I’ve started(attempting) to paint wildlife!
When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?” What did you answer?
An Artist! Although we always joked – my school friends and I – with the old advert ‘I want to be a tree’. I once attended a ‘careers lesson’ with quite a formidable teacher called Mrs Crosby at the age of 15 and she asked me what I wanted to do… I said ‘art’ – she said – ‘no you’ll never make a living in art’ and then I reminded her that John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi told him at the age of 14 that ‘he’d never make a living playing the guitar’….
What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?
My school seems to come up a lot… standing in a blustery marquee in the middle of Exmoor, literally ‘on the moor’, selling my wares at the Exmoor Annual Show (think horses) and an oldish lady comes up to me and says ‘I taught you science, it’s Mrs Harrison’ – Oh my word…! She was part of the Dulverton choir and had come as a day trip to the Exford Show and there I was and there she was… I remembered her but was amazed she remembered me, as I was so insignificant – I was so shy as a child, in the background, only ever good at art, music and English and all the academia subjects just passed me by… and mrs Harrison always gave me a De-merit as I always forgot to bring my science overall! It was always in the wash as I was a terrible scientist… I told her that and she remembered and laughed! She bought a few things from me, took my card, but I didn’t see her again sadly! I also met my old music teacher on twitter too – now a published author!
What is the hardest part of being creative?
Waking up and being creative! And having the confidence in yourself to keep on doing what you love. The first I find the hardest in the winter, I’m an outside girl, I love the sun, the warmth and the light – come winter I’m miserable in the dark, inside and in the cold… I probably do suffer from SAD but I try my hardest to overcome that… And as for confidence, I suffer from serious ‘imposter syndrome’ I paint as much as I can, practice my drawings, have ideas left right and centre, but when it comes down to it I feel I have to apologise… I live amongst amazing talent, and I don’t feel worthy to be part of it… It’s a terrible feeling and it makes me incredibly down and then annoyed with myself too – it’s a vicious circle, one I find hard to break free from.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
If you have a burning passion inside you to create art – just do it – nobody will think any less of you, in fact, they’ll aspire to want to ‘be’ like you and wish they could do it too… the hardest part of anything is starting… once you’re over that first hurdle the world is your paint brush, or crochet hook, knitting needle, printer’s block, potter’s wheel… it’s all there for the taking – just go for it!
What subjects inspire you?
The natural world! I am at a loss without it – birds, wild animals, wildflowers – from the humblest green flower beetle to an osprey – I get so excited seeing just about anything! And I did indeed have the best subject of them all – a robin called ‘Larry’ (hence Larryware) he got me through the hardest of times, losing my mum – he literally was my best friend and then he gifted his son ‘Louie’ who literally made my life amazing! Every day I’d call him, 4 times, maybe 5 and he’d fly down to see me, have his photograph taken and then be rewards with live juicy mealworms – I miss him so much, a little part of me went when he did.
I also love my garden, come May/June it is at it’s best – just stuffed to the gunnels with wildflowers and wildlife, it’s simply paradise! Over the years we have attracted so much – from marble white butterflies, grass snakes, stoats and grey wagtails – we also have a thriving ‘living in the garden’ population of hedgehogs who get two large bowls of food per evening!
Then when I’m not painting, I am photographing wildlife and my most memorable wildlife experience at last with a proper telephoto lens, were the choughs flying through the waves on the Pembrokeshire coast! Plus it was on my Birthday too, a perfect present!
Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)
Alan Cracknell – my dad working at his advertising agency was gifted 2 prints which hung for the duration of my childhood in our bathroom – a girl at night holding the moon in a cage and young boys rooted to the ground like trees – I used to stare at the pictures every time – I still have them somewhere! They’ve kept in my mind’s eye ever since.
Carry Ackroyd – I first met her at our local art gallery – The Burton – a printmaker from Northamptonshire with a particular (passion) obsession with the poet John Clare who lived in her part part of the world at the turn of the last century, he wrote poems of the changing of the land, lamenting the loss of trees and natural habitat. Carry creates breathtaking pictures of the Northamptonshire she knew as a child to the baron, hedgerow destroyed, turbine laced views she sees now… it’s a celebration of the ‘past’ natural world to the flocks of lapwings, wildflowers amongst wild streams, bees buzzing in a meadow without the insecticide or ‘killing fields’ I like to call them… Things are getting better, some hedgerows are now being put back and the caretakers of the land (farmers and landowners) are beginning to see the error of their ways… but some places have been destroyed and will take decades to come back… so she celebrates what was there and what, amazingly against all odds, survives – I love her pieces so so much and she’s a very lovely person too!
Antony Gormley – Years ago at the Hayward Gallery in London, while viewing a separate exhibition entitled ‘Sonic Boom’ – Antony Gormley had black figures standing on every tall building in London – he had an installation of bodies falling off the building of the Royal Academy. of Art Those few months were the highest numbers of calls to the police of possible suicide victims… only to be told ‘no, that’s Antony Gormley’… I just loved the figures – to me it was a sense that we’re always being watched, no matter who we are and what we’re doing, there’s someone watching us. I am never one who likes ‘installations’ – I can’t stand ‘Verity’ at Ilfracombe, a frankly appalling and frightening pregnant brass lady with her stomach and face exposed designed by the hideous Damien Huirst (give me 3 artists I hate question!) – but Antony Gormley’s ‘Angel of the North’ is truly the most beautiful sculpture I have ever laid eyes on – I have stopped there to look, light snow falling, the hum of the traffic, but it was such a calming sight, I felt the angel’s wings laying a protective blanket over me, embracing the north! Stunning!
Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?
Vincent Van Gogh – I refuse to apologise – the man was the greatest colourist, the greatest believer in beauty and the greatest soul – he had a burning passion to paint – he would mix colour straight onto the canvas, create a masterpiece in an afternoon, yet was not recognised in his own life time. If you haven’t seen the clip watch this from Doctor Who and be prepared to shed so many tears.
Robert Delaunay – another colourist, but abstract – shapes and line and fields of colour – so wonderful on the eye, painting in the 1920s/30s – my favourite era as I love Art Deco (named long after the decade!), his wife Sonia also painted, but designed fashion and interiors, using my favourite paint – gouache – a heavy bodied watercolour – both of them shaped the best time of art in my opinion. I saw the Art Deco exhibition at the V&A about 3 times years ago – they both featured heavily and I wanted to take home everything that was displayed featuring their work – just – fantastic!
Franz Marc – part of the ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ – ‘The Blue Rider’ a group of artists formed in Munich in Germany in 1909 created by another favourite artist of mine Wassily Kandinsky. Marc was a key figure of German Expressionism – and painted which is possibly one of my favourite animal painting ‘Blue Horse’ (I also love ‘Whistle-jacket by George Stubbs but that’s a whole other kettle of fish for me!) – The Tiger and Red Deer in 1912 and The Tower of Blue Horses, Foxes, and Fate of the Animals in 1913 – and not just art, but ‘animal art’ – everyone else was painting colours, still life, landscapes, while Marc was painting animals… My kind of guy! Most of his work is about colour, bold primary colour, sometimes cubist but with a profound sense of emotions – the kind I try and convey in my own animal work.
What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?
This is hard as I feel I am only just at the beginnings – it’s a toss up between my rhino painting ‘Race Against Time’ (above somewhere!) – I find the loss of animals by ‘man’ very hard to bear – I will always use the quote from ‘Fiver’ written by Richard Adams in Watership Down talking about man ‘They’ll never stop, until they’ve destroyed the earth’. But when it boils down to it I’ll choose ‘The Dance’ – because it features one of the first ever creatures I tried to draw a few years ago… I think I conquered this one!
What was the last piece of art you sold?
A flying grey heron painted onto a wooden jewellery bowl, it’s flown to Washington, United States!
And finally… Because this is really important….
What’s the best type of cheese? (haha)
Brie. Er… goat’s cheese is lovely on a pizza. Mozzarella accompanied with basil and beef tomatoes. Er.. gouda – it’s the Dutch in me… Edam. There was an amazing Dutch cheese with cumin and caraway seeds in it called ‘Leidse kass’ or ‘Leyden cheese’ … A good mature cheddar. I don’t like smoked cheese or stilton – unless there’s a good port to mask the flavour haha!
I’m blooming everywhere! 😀