February 2017_by Federica Tattoli
Emma Talbot is a British artist known primarily for her work as a painter who reformats biography and auto-biography into memory and fantasy. Her delicate and strong works made of drawings, words, and fabrics cannot leave the viewer indifferent, it's like look at our deepest feelings in a mirror.
How would you present your work?
In various ways – I’ve most recently been making hangings and tent-like structures of painted silk, but I also make flat works and 3D things, so it depends on the work and the space.
Drawings, paintings, and words are the components of many of your works in which way you mix them together?
I use text (my own writing and quotes from others), image, pattern and materiality as equal elements, which can operate independently or together associatively. I want my work to mirror the way I think – with lots of connections at work at once. I don’t want the language of the work to be too fixed, so I have the freedom to be inventive.
Which is your interest in telling stories - most of them autobiographic and very intimate - ? which is your relationship with the viewer?
The work has to be about things that matter to me, that feel quite acute at the time of making. That way, I feel that what I’m doing is purposeful. Life is an epic, multilayered and unfolding narrative, full of associations and references. It’s our truest experience and a constant source of material. I think of art and life being on the same level – so it makes sense to me to use art to articulate the experience of life. Making work is like talking to the viewer – there are lots of thoughts to share. I hope they can relate in some way, I hope I convey some meaning.
I feel your work as very delicate but strong, something to watch with extreme attention and taking care of… I’m interested in the way you use different surfaces to assemble your works, why you started and which kind of evolution have this practice?
My work always starts with making loads of small single drawings - of whatever comes to mind – to see what I’m thinking. The subject matter for bigger pieces comes out of this process, and then I’m reading and looking at stuff (materials and artifacts) to build up ideas.
I like to figure out the larger work as I go along, painting immediately onto the surface. I’ve used raw canvas or dyed silk - which I really love, it’s very delicate but also resilient. Most of the recent work has been silk hangings, so that the fluidity of the fabric is evident. I like the work to be physically light –present but not solid - kind of vulnerable but intense, suitable to the work’s meaning.
Where do you make your works?
In my studio in Walthamstow, London.
What can’t be missing from your worktable?
Paint, paper, notebooks, sewing machine.
A collection you wish at least one work of yours was part of?
A museum where you’d like to have an exhibition?
Gemeentemuseum den Haag.
The market or your need to express?
I’ll always make my work, but having enough money to buy materials, pay for the studio and live is pretty necessary.
Lightness or depth?
Lightness of materials and depth of meaning.
Day or night?
A question you’ve never been asked but one you’ve always wanted to answer? Answer that question…
The answer is yes…
Could you briefly describe one of your latest works?
You Do Not Belong To You (Universal Story) 2017, is a large tent-like structure made of painted silk that hangs in the gallery space (currently at Arcadia Missa, London). The surface is covered with texts, pattern and drawn images of women (me) using different kinds of technology (smartphones, laptops, having a coil fitted) and doing natural things (having periods, giving birth, looking after children). The text tells how we’re intrinsically part of the universe, but can’t hear the natural universal rhythms over the construct of our technological world. It’s not a criticism, more an observation that our bodies and selves are bound to the technological present. The title comes from a quote from Buckminster Fuller ‘You Do Not Belong to You (but to the Universe)’ and the subject came out of looking at ‘Moon Tents’ - tents that Native American tribes made for menstruating women to commune in (and share their dreams, be consulted for wise words) when their periods were synchronized by the light of the moon.
Could you anticipate me something about your new project, a solo show in April with Arcadia Missa in NY?
The show in NY will include a number of my recent painted silk works, such as ‘The Mountain’ which is a double-sided piece and ‘Interpret My Dreams’- a two panel hanging based on images from my dreams - as well as some single hangings. I’m really excited about the combination of works and showing the work in the US for the first time.
What are you reading?
These things together: Ira Progoff ‘An Intensive Journal Workshop’, Anaïs Nin ‘In Favour of The Sensitive Man’ and Ricoeur’s ‘Oneself As Another’
Ali: Fear Eats The Soul Fassbinder.
Where would you like to live?
I love London, but I’d also like Brussels or Berlin.
Do you have reference artists? Artists you’d like to work with?
My references are always changing and include all sorts of things, so I can’t easily pin point – non-western art, ideas in writing, textiles.
A project, related to art, that you’d like to do?
I run a research project called ‘Intimacy Unguarded’ at Central Saint Martins, it looks at the personal as material for making art and writing.
If you weren’t an artist, what job would you like?
I don’t want another job!
Let’s imagine a group show. Who would you like to exhibit with?
This is a weird show! Anaïs Nin’s love letters, Unica Zürn, Harun Farocki, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Deiter Roth, Simon Fujiwara, Hans Peter Feldmann, Jockum Nordstrom, Ursula Mayer, Danh Vo.
Yes or no to curators? If yes, who would you choose?
Yes! Rozsa Farkas and Zhoe Granger
A dream of yours?
No dream is bigger than to keep making and showing work.
Holes and Stains and Marks, 2013
You Come To Me In A Dream, 2015
The Three Of Life, 2014