Amelia’s Magazine | Sirens: an interview with artist Rosie Emerson

Rosie Emerson Capella edition 1 of 5 by Rosie Emerson, Cyanotype, 42 x 61 cm

Capella edition 1 of 5, Cyanotype, 42 x 61 cm

Rosie Emerson explores the ancient form of Cyanotype printing in her new Sirens’ show at the Hang Up Gallery, with a series of 18 works ranging in size from 12cm up to 6ft. Here she explains more about the extraordinary techniques employed in her beautiful artworks and what she looks for in the models she works with. She also shares some sage advice for all aspiring artists.

Portrait of Rosie Emerson

How do you chance upon the many techniques that you employ in your art pieces?
Oooh, interesting question, I guess initially that was from my fine art education at Kingston University, back in 2004. We were encouraged to try new media, and so I worked with screen-printing, etching and film there. Even then I was mixing up different media; creating solvent transfer prints on canvas and then embroidering over the top and painting onto screen-prints. I’m still mixing things up now, and am always interested in both creating new techniques and discovering old ones.

Recently I have been screen-printing using natural materials, like ash, sawdust and charcoal powder. I wanted to create prints which were imperfect and softer, and I looked into the technology used in flocking and adapted it. Charcoal is one of the most exciting and volatile of materials to use, I like not knowing how a print is going to turn out. My dad is also a cabinetmaker so he has been saving me different types of saw dust from his workshop.

Rosie Emerson Rhoda edition 1 of 2

Rhoda edition 1 of 2.

What has been your favorite discovery so far, and why is it so fun to play with?
At the moment it is an old process called Cyanotype printing. I only started using it to create work this year, and this work is forming my Solo show ‘Sirens’ which opens next week at Hang Up Gallery in Stoke Newington, London. It’s a brilliantly playful process; I’m combining real size negatives with objects – everything from shells to branches to salt – to create two tone, one off or small editions of prints. The process responds to UV light, so I even made some using the sun.

Rosie Emerson Selene


What do you look for in a model for your artwork?
My work to date has involved solitary figures, they are mostly friends or friends of friends, although I have worked with some wonderful professional models such as Daisy Lowe and Amber Le Bon to name drop a few. It is not so important for me if they are known figures or not, It’s about an interesting face – I am always drawn to strong looking women, although recently I have made softer, more introspective pieces. I have just started taking my own pictures rather than working collaboratively with photographers, which means directing models is something I am improving at. I’ve worked with some great photographers namely Becky Palmer and Mark Bayley and I can now say ‘press you lips together’, rather than can you ‘shut your mouth’ for example. It is very important for me that things are unrushed and everyone is enjoying the shoot, that’s when the unexpected and the creative are allowed to happen.

Rosie Emerson Marlene Dietrich #6

Marlene Dietrich #6.

You also dabble in film, what can the viewer expect from this experience?
Yes, alongside my Cyanotypes in the ‘Sirens’ show I am showing a short Super 8 film. It’s not too far removed from the photographic works upstairs, but film is a fantastic and I think provocative medium, which in the case of ‘White Knight’ raises ideas about looking at people looking at art, so the relationship between the audience and model is subtly flipped, and the viewer becomes the subject.

siren #2 by Rosie Emerson, Cyanotype, 74 cm dimensions round

Siren #2, Cyanotype, 74 cm x 74cm.

How did a degree in fine art set you up for the real world?
Hmm, it didn’t really, we had a great lecture from an outside guest, who offered up some pearls of wisdom, namely about your most useful network being your peers sitting next to you. The course was mostly practical and conceptually led. We had a tiny module called professional practice.

Isis by Rosie Emerson, Cyanotype, 112cm x 76 cm

Isis, Cyanotype, 112cm x 76 cm.

You have exhibited in numerous places around the world, what has been the most memorable occasion or event and why?
Yes, one of the first international projects I did was in Tel Aviv and it was really exciting to see pictures of my work up there. Sadly I am stuck in the studio in London for many of the international shows and art fairs that I do, but I am planning a trip to the West coast of America later this year. I’d love to show some work there, and perhaps make some more work whilst I’m there too.

Rosie Emerson Shrine # 1

Shrine #1.

What advice would you give an up and coming artist when it comes to finding your feet in the ‘real world’?
I say, go for it, then if you’re finding it hard, think long and hard about whether this is something you want to do… really want to do, and if you can’t imagine doing anything else, think about it a bit harder. Think about whether you have the self motivation and are happy to live life with a insecure income, whether you are prepared to put yourself out there to potentially fail and then have to pick yourself up again. And then, if you still really want to be an artist, find a way to make it work. Very few artists live solely off their income as an artist, so think about something else you can do alongside making art. Get a studio, be strict with yourself about making work, apply for everything and anything that takes your fancy, and don’t worry about the rejections. Organize things yourself and don’t wait for things to happen. I quote artist Byron Pritchard, when he says ‘the world doesn’t owe you a job’.

Sirens opens soon at the Hang Up Gallery – read my full listing here. See more work by Rosie Emerson here.

Categories ,Amber Le Bon, ,Becky Palmer, ,Byron Pritchard, ,Cyanotype printing, ,daisy lowe, ,exhibition, ,hackney, ,Hang Up Gallery, ,interview, ,Kingston University, ,Mark Bayley, ,Rosie Emerson, ,Sirens, ,Tel Aviv, ,White Knight

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Amelia’s Magazine | Free Range Graduate Shows 2014: Photography

Andalucia by Sara Bertolasi

I always get a sense of déjà at the Free Range student photography shows, where similar themes and styles crop up year in year out. However there are always some stand out photographs which capture my attention, either because they have done something new, or because they have made great images regardless of technique or subject.

Free Range photography 2014-Sara Bertolasi 2
At Westminster University Sara Bertolasi showed a series of tree portraits shot in Andalucia, which are believed to contain the souls of fallen soldiers who died in the War of Alpujarras. Each tree has a very distinct personality of their own, which is reinforced by the simplicity of the land, tree and sky.

Illuminated by Vladislav Kolev shows portraits of people watching TV, their concentration writ large in the eery glow of the screen.

Free Range photography 2014-Sarah England 2
Free Range photography 2014-Sarah England 1
The Pipe Dream by Sarah England uses analogue methods and double exposures to evoke dreamlike scenes, where houses and landscapes blend eerily together (and in the instance of me shooting the art at the show, yet another layer is added over the top). It’s not a new idea but this was executed very well.

Free Range photography 2014-Mhairi Law hebrides
Hebrides by Mhairi Law
In the Lay of the Land is a project following the lives of the young people who live in the Outer Hebrides, choosing to ‘enrich their local culture and community with energy and enterprise’. At Edinburgh Napier Mhairi Law’s wonderfully evocative photographs reveal the real people that are making this outer isle vibrant again. Just above is Rosie Wiscombe, who makes Harris tweed accessories.

Nicoline Vormedal Sandwith
Free Range photography 2014-Nicoline Vormedal Sandwith fox
Free Range photography 2014-Nicoline Vormedal Sandwith pigeon
Large scale photographs of Pests (stuffed ones) explore ideas of the animal as ‘other’. Amazing! By Nicoline Vormedal Sandwith at Roehampton University.

Matthew Cooper
This photograph of a chilly looking Santa enjoying the waves is one of a series looking at Britain’s Hidden Culture by Matthew Cooper at Northampton. I love the energy in this carefully composed shot.

David Morris colchester

Tucked away in a dark corner I found David Morris (of Colchester Uni), who had created a stunning hand crafted cyanotype movie of the tide going in and out on a stretch of Essex beach near his home. On the wall were hundreds of prints depicting the same simple scene, rolling waves grounded in the unchanging line of wooden struts stretching out to sea. You can watch his magical movie above.

Brett White
Brett White‘s photos at Plymouth University are a visceral abstraction of military history.

Tamar Valley Shelley Belboda
Free Range photography 2014-Shelley Belboda
Evocative photography by Shelley Belboda looks at the legacy of mining in the Tamar Valley.

Our Tommy photo montage sculpture
I could not find who was responsible for this Our Tommy photo montage, part of a clever installation.

Paint is Paint by Harry Scott
Paint is Paint by Harry Scott showcases a nice confluence of photography and ink, at UCA Rochester.

Free Range photography 2014-Amber Banks Brumby
This intriguing installation by Amber Banks-Brumby at Nottingham Trent reveals the aesthetic power of tiny organisms.

Kieran-Hosking-expat life
At Swansea Kieran Hosking took this evocative picture of his dad, in a project about the banality of expat life.

Rosie Gilbey E8 trannies
Rosie Gilbey put herself in the frame with pictures of E8 Trannies.

Matt Tacon
Each year the photography students at Falmouth University consistently present one of the best Free Range photography shows, and this year was no exception. Recreated landscapes my Matt Tacon look real from afar, yet closer inspection reveals them to be constructed of tiny well-lit models.

Free Range photography 2014-Amber Jane Strickland
Amber Jane Strickland fuses photography and ink to create romantic artworks.

Christopher Ower-Davis
Free Range photography 2014-Christopher Ower-Davis
Scalpel Constructions abstracts by Christopher Ower-Davis mix illustration and photography, creating artwork that pops.

Elinor Bussell- Defying the Male Gaze
Elinor Bussell is Defying the Male Gaze is a series of unsettling images featuring nude women with sewn meat details.

Andy Race
Beautiful images by Andy Race blur the lines between art, science and nature. Also, props to him for being the only photography graduate to notice that I tweeted about his work – no surprise then to find that he owns a super professional website where you can buy one of his otherworldly prints from the Maya Blue Lake series.

On a final note, it’s nice to see that despite the passing of the years bulldog clips remain as popular as ever as a simple and effective means of hanging art on the walls… I used the very same technique nearly 20 years ago: like the drum n bass of that era it’s an idea that refuses to die.

Categories ,2014, ,Amber Jane Strickland, ,Andy Race, ,Brett White, ,Britain’s Hidden Culture, ,Christopher Ower-Davis, ,Colchester School of Art, ,cyanotype, ,Cyanotype printing, ,David Morris, ,Defying the Male Gaze, ,E8 Trannies, ,Elinor Bussell, ,Falmouth University, ,Free Range, ,Harry Scott, ,Illuminated, ,In the Lay of the Land, ,Matt Tacon, ,Matthew Cooper, ,Maya Blue Lake, ,Mhairi Law, ,Nicoline Vormedal Sandwith, ,Northampton University, ,Our Tommy, ,Outer Hebrides, ,Paint is Paint, ,Pests, ,photography, ,Plymouth University, ,review, ,Roehampton University, ,Rosie Gilbey, ,Rosie Wiscombe, ,Sara Bertolasi, ,Sarah England, ,Scalpel Constructions, ,Shelley Belboda, ,Tamar Valley, ,The Pipe Dream, ,UCA Rochester, ,Vladislav Kolev, ,War of Alpujarras, ,Westminster University

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