• Little Trace Of // Emma Coulter.


    Posted on 31st July, by Dana Tomić Hughes in art, interviews. 1 Comment

    Interview with Australian Artist Emma Coulter | Yellowtrace.

     

    I remember the first time Emma Coulter sent me an email in 2011 about her upcoming solo show. She referred to it as her “make or break moment”. I was about to fly out for my annual design pilgrimage to Milan and unable to help her. As it turns out, the show signaled a significant turning point for this dedicated artist. Since then, Coulter has gone from strength to strength, seizing every opportunity and securing a series of subsequent exhibitions, including an artist residency in Berlin. This year she was selected as a finalist for Yen Art Award, dedicated to supporting emerging female talent. Emma’s also been incredibly busy preparing for a bunch of upcoming shows in Sydney in Melbourne, so read on to find more about where you can see her work in person.

    In a way I’m quite glad I had to wait this long before sharing Emma’s talent with you. For my money, her art practice has evolved, blossomed and reached new heights in the last couple of years. There is a definite sense of composure and new-found confidence in all of her pieces. At the same time, her work pulsates with energy, vitality and sheer joy created with her signature upbeat colour palette. I simply cannot wait to see where she takes it from here.

     

    ‘Abstractions’ group show by emerging artists.
    Janet Clayton Gallery, Sydney. Opens on August 17th.

    ‘Transposition’ multidisciplinary installation.
    Pieces of Eight Gallery, Melbourne. Opens on August 19th.

    ‘Art Month Finalists’ group exhibition.
    Depot two Gallery, Sydney. Opens on September 3rd.

     

    Emma Coulter in her studio. Photo by Megan Cullen | Yellowtrace.

    Emma Coulter in front of one of her paintings.
    Photo by Megan Cullen, courtesy of the artist.

    Foreign Landscape by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Foreign Landscape, 2013.
    Oil & Enamel on Linen, 120cm dia.
    Image courtesy of the artist.

     

    + Hello Emma! Welcome to Yellowtrace and thanks for making the time to e-chat. Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourself?

    Hi Dana, thanks for the opportunity to be on your blog… I’ve been following it for a few years now, and I’m a big fan! I completed my visual arts degree in 1998 at QUT in Brisbane. Due to the lack of confidence and direction in my own work, and maybe a little peer pressure from those around me, I went on to complete a Bachelor of Built Environment in Interior Design at QUT. With my already established conceptual skills and creative ability, I thrived in that environment, and felt challenged. It was a highly creative course, but we all know the reality of being an interior designer and working at big corporate firms… After about 5 years of practicing as an interior designer, I was craving some real ‘creative expression’, and the ability to develop my own practice, ideas and research outside the realms and boundaries of an architectural design brief.

     

    Assembly No.1 by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Assembly No.1, 2013.
    Oil and enamel on board 40x50cm
    Image courtesy of the artist.

    Assembly No.2 by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Assembly No.2, 2013.
    Oil and enamel on board 40x50cm
    Image courtesy of the artist.

     

    In 2004 I made the decision to re-establish my art practice. I set up my first real studio at the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and had my first solo exhibition in Brisbane in 2005. I relocated to Melbourne in 2007 with Geyer who I was working for at the time, and moved my studio to Melbourne and had my first solo show there that year. Ever since then I have been slowly developing my arts practice, in parallel with juggling the demands of corporate clients and politics of working for big design firms… Working 4 days mostly, and then the other 3 in the studio, or at night (when I wasn’t at work!) with a few fulltime breaks here and there.

     

    Assembly No.3 by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Assembly No.3, 2013.
    Oil and enamel on board 40x50cm
    Image courtesy of the artist.

    Assembly No.4 by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Assembly No.4, 2013.
    Oil and enamel on board 40x50cm
    Image courtesy of the artist.

     

    In the last few years things have really being coming together for me. My large solo exhibition, ‘shedding skin’, at 45 downstairs in 2011 was definitely a turning point. I feel like a really arrived in that space of being a ‘professional artist’. I also seized the opportunity to accept a residency in Berlin and exhibit internationally, taking a year off to focus full time on my art practice. Upon coming home to Melbourne, I moved into a studio at Paradise Hills in Richmond and participated in a curated group exhibition, ‘from Paradise’, at James Makin Gallery. Earlier this year I was selected as one of twenty emerging artists to participate in an artist speed dating event as part of Artmonth Sydney. Out of that I was invited by Janet Clayton Gallery in Sydney to participate in an upcoming curated group of emerging artists entitled, ‘Abstractions’. Also as a result of the speed dating event, 7 of the strongest candidates were further shortlisted to participate in a curated group exhibition of, ‘Art Month Finalists’, at Depot two Gallery in Sydney.

     

    Emma Coulter in her studio. Photo by Megan Cullen | Yellowtrace.

    Emma Coulter working in her studio.
    Photo by Megan Cullen, courtesy of the artist.

     

    Whilst my art practice has been growing, I’ve also become really interested in exploring the boundaries between my art and the built environment. In 2012, I participated in a few site specific installations, which led to an invitation for an upcoming installation at Melbourne’s Pieces of Eight Gallery. This is a really interesting project for me, as the façade is an amazing double height space, designed by renowned architect, Nonda Katsalidis, and it really offers a great opportunity to not only engage with the public, but explore the boundaries between my painting and the built environment.

     

    Catalyst by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Catalyst, 2013. From ‘Tessellations’ series, on show at Janet Clayton Gallery from August 17th.
    Oil and enamel on linen, 150 x 150cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

    Pleasure Seeker by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Pleasure Seeker, 2013. From ‘Tessellations’ series, on show at Janet Clayton Gallery from August 17th.
    Oil and enamel on linen. Image courtesy of the artist.

     

    + What are you seeking to portray in your work? What is fundamental to your art practice – your philosophy and your process? 

    The interrelationships of colour and shape and the way these elements are arranged and perceived is central to my art practice, which hovers between the realms of spontaneous image making and the considered execution of thought. I describe my work as ‘the mapping of a visual landscape; depictions of reality transformed into perceivable assemblies’. Memory, thought processes, and inner psychologies are arranged into chromatic tessellations that form a type of visual narrative; with each series or body of work forming a story. Not dissimilar to characters of an alphabet, in the way that letters form words, sentences, language and dialogue.

     

    Floating From Ground by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Floating From Ground, 2013. From ‘Tessellations’ series, on show at Janet Clayton Gallery from August 17th.
    Oil and enamel on linen, 40 x 40cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

     

    Ephemeral moments are encapsulated as tangible elements. Frozen in the moment of time, the works translate sensations and experiences into the concrete and absolute. Whilst my own personal semantics and experiences inform the works, these are immediate to the viewer through composition, perception and the geometry of colour relationships. I also really enjoy that element of audience participation and discovering new interpretations that each viewer brings to the work. That element of accessibility is important to me, and opportunities such as my ‘transposition’, installation afford an opportunity of a wider audience.

     

    Emma Coulter in her studio. Photo by Megan Cullen | Yellowtrace.

    Emma Coulter working in her studio.
    Photo by Megan Cullen, courtesy of the artist.

     

    + You use the most delicious colour combinations in your artworks. Can you tell us about the significance of colour in your work, and are your pieces planned from the outset or do they evolve organically? 

    My work evolves intuitively in quite an organic process. Typically there is a certain amount of planning involved i.e. planning of sizes, materials etc., especially when I am creating a body of work for an exhibition or specific project. I constantly hover between intuition and discipline in the making of the pieces.

    I think that colour is one of the major elements that conveys the narrative in my work. I see my works as a visual story, each one like a page in a diary, but abstracted, so never literal in its meaning.

     

    Alien Landscape No.1 by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Alien Landscape No.1, 2013.
    Enamel on paper, 42 x 34cm.
    Image courtesy of the artist.

    Alien Landscape No.5 by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Alien Landscape No.5, 2013.
    Enamel on paper, 42 x 34cm.
    Image courtesy of the artist.

     

    + Any other interesting/ funny/ quirky facts about your work you could share with us?

    I’m not sure if this is interesting, but because my work is abstract, it’s often assumed that it’s quite quick to make, whereas actually I find quite the opposite. Having come originally from a figurative position, I find that abstraction actually takes me much longer. There is no ‘visual reference material’ to study, such as one might for a still life or a portrait. You must imagine the work as it evolves, and as such you are constantly resolving the work during the process of making in order to achieve the right composition and balance of elements, mixed of course with the technical aspects of the work.

     

    Alien Landscape No.3 by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Alien Landscape No.3, 2013.
    Enamel on paper, 42 x 34cm.
    Image courtesy of the artist.

    Alien Landscape No.6 by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Alien Landscape No.6, 2013.
    Enamel on paper, 42 x 34cm.
    Image courtesy of the artist.

     

    + Best piece of advice I’ve been given…

    “Don’t compare yourself to others”. I admit this is very difficult advice to follow, as often I find its other people that do this to you.. It seems that is human nature to compete, compare and benchmark as a measure of success.

    You have to take life at your own pace, and do what feels right for you, at the right time. We all have our own individual strengths, weaknesses and quirks and happiness is a state of mind, not a destination or a benchmark.

     

    Convergeant by Emma Coulter, 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Convergeant, 2013.
    Oil & Enamel on Linen, 120cm dia.
    Image courtesy of the artist.

     

    + My most treasured belonging is…

    A few pieces of special jewelry that I have inherited from my lovely great aunties from Northern Ireland.I also have a bit of a ‘clothes collection’, including a vintage crochet cardigan that I’ve had since I was 16… Can’t throw it out!

    + It’s not very cool, but I really like…

    Kylie and Madonna – You might catch me doing the locomotion in my studio! 

     

    Emma Coulter, self portrait in progress 2013 | Yellowtrace.

    Emma Coulter, self portrait in progress, 2013.
    Image courtesy of the artist.

     

    + I am really good at…

    Doing a lot of things at once, my brain has different compartments. Sometimes I find the more I do, the more that I can do – I guess that is about self-discipline as well. 

    + Most people don’t know that I…

    Can’t ride a bike. Sometimes it’s these simple and basic things that I don’t have time for! Lucky for me though, my boyfriend bought me a very cool bike just recently for my birthday… so guess what? It’s time to learn!

     


    [Images courtesy of the artist. Photography by Megan Cullen as noted.]

     





  • One Response to “Little Trace Of // Emma Coulter.”

    1. [...] Interview with artists Emma Coulter via Yellowtrace 2. Pretty DIY ear cuff via Honestly WTF 3. Planet cakes – need I say more? via Colossal 4. [...]



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