Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Arts Correspondent

Artistic Mind: Emma Money

18-year-old Harrogate artist Emma Money has been shortlisted for The Arts Society’s prestigious Isolation Artwork Competition in support of young artists and students across the UK during lockdown. The 8 shortlisted artists were asked to respond to the theme of isolation and have produced new works that reflect their lockdown experience. With a striking piece based on the Zoom connection we have all come to rely on, her piece resonates with the new normal. We caught up with her to find out more about her and her artwork.

Hi, first and foremost how are you?

I am very well thank you, just keeping busy.

Can you tell us a little about yourself...

I am 18 years old, currently studying Fashion Design at Salford university with a huge passion for art in whatever form it comes- whether that be dance, clothing or fine art. My home is a small village between Harrogate and Ripon, although I live in Manchester to study.

As an artist, where do you seek inspiration?

My inspiration varies a lot, from people I’m surrounded by, and cultures I am lucky enough to visit and research, to nature. As I grew up in North Yorkshire, the countryside and wildlife has been a huge part of my upbringing and always sets my mind free to many new ideas. There are endless amounts of visual beauty from the smallest details of nature to the world as a whole, however, I love looking at different societal values, always seeking new opinions from others of the world we live in.

Can you tell us a little bit about your piece for the Isolation Artwork Competition...

It was inspired by everyone’s efforts to come together as one huge community with all the suffering caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and reflects the amount of compassion being shared around. I wanted to do my little bit to give back to the community in terms of happiness as well as economically so I decided to create a fundraiser. I used my Instagram account as a platform to ask people to send in pictures of loved ones that they missed and could not see due to lockdown and then offered to paint them with an optional donation of £10 which would then be given to the NHS Together Charities’ COVID-19 appeal. I gave all of the money (£130) raised minus the £5 postage and packaging (£125). I created a collage of all the paintings with raw seams sewn between the pieces resembling the physical barriers we are currently facing to protect each other, but as a collage, it also showed how everyone is still together in “Spirit” ( my name for this piece ). After submitting the entry I divided up the paintings again before posting them to the customers or their loved ones.

What were you wanting to say when creating the work?

The piece was a resemblance of the togetherness that has risen from the current COVID-19 situation, demonstrating how regardless of distance and physical barriers, everyone is still together in “Spirit”.

What do you like most about your work?

I love being able to put a smile on peoples' faces, especially in this situation when the majority of the people had no idea that they were being painted so when they received the paintings or saw themselves online they were overjoyed. Being able to help to spread joy is an incredible feeling.

Is your art always reflective of what is happening currently within society?

I think from a young age my work has been quite reflective; in school I created pieces looking at the effects of how technology has impacted different generations relationships and the joy that can inhibit or prohibit. My current fashion design collection is based on the whether harmonious mental and physical boundaries are indistinguishable when looking at current freedom, so yes I would say reflection is a huge part. I think unless you can reflect upon the issues at hand on a deeper level, there is no capability of moving forward, and art is a huge field for provoking people to reflect not only on society as a whole but also on their personal pathways.

Whose work do you feel has help shape yours?

I was fortunate enough to go visit a Zao Wou-Ki exhibition in Paris and I think that was a pivotal moment for me in terms of art. I was absolutely blown away by his use of colour, as well as the emotion and atmosphere he could create without even having a tangible subject. On a more personal level, I had some incredible art teachers throughout secondary school (Ripon Grammar) and they challenged me to see beauty in the finest of details in mundane objects which transformed my mind.

What was the first piece of artwork that made you stop and really think?

I remember seeing a Jenny Saville artwork and being repulsed and loving it at the same time and I was baffled. I delved into her ideas of beauty which were way beyond superficial and I think researching her work and reasoning was very enlightening.

What is your favourite artwork?

It has to be Zao Wou-Ki’s “4-4-85” piece because of my awe for his pure talent to create such a powerful painting.

How would you define the role of an artist?

I think an artist is a creative individual demonstrating their analysis of life, endeavouring to challenge or celebrate the present, for future improvement.

What is your dream project?

I’d love to do a physically huge scale project that cultivates all the arts together in one, with substantial amounts of cross-industry collaboration!

Virtual Exhibition