How do irrational and mystical beliefs relate to the creative act? And is it dangerous to put art out into the world that addresses the occult? With A Radical Mystery, Emily explored the archetype of the naked ageing female body, or the ‘crone’ (an old and supposedly ugly woman), in 16th and 17th century print-making. Being often portrayed as diabolical and witch-like, these images impacted public opinion, eventually causing actual physical harm to women. So how did this portrayal of older women arouse and stoke fear in the viewer? And what was the effect on the psyche of society in relation to the naked ageing female body?
The starting point of this research was a Dutch printmaker named Jacques De Gheyn (1565-1629), who used the older woman in his prints as a figure of horror. In order to uncover the psychological and possibly damaging effects of De Gheyn’s prints upon society, Emily collaborated with De Grafische Werkplaats, a centre for graphics and printing in The Hague, where she created a series of etchings herself, focusing on the emotions and intentions behind De Gheyn’s prints.
Besides using more traditional techniques, like acid-bath etching and using the printing press, Emily also focused on another area of her research, which entails the mystical and the mysterious. With digital printing combined with her own watercolour drawings, Emily will create a Ouija board, which allows her to explore the ‘ideomotor effect’: an unconscious and involuntary physical movement, unlocking subconscious knowledge as a channel to create art.
Emily is an interdisciplinary artist, born in Australia, but living and working in Berlin from 2017 on. Her practice spans many mediums, including etching, ceramics, silk painting and monotypes. With a background as a rare-book dealer, Emily has an encyclopaedic approach to her art making – with influences from the history of ornament, visionary art and scholarly magic texts. Her work primarily focuses around depictions of older women throughout history, and her practice acts as a form of redemption to the marginalised older woman figure. An interest in magic and spirituality underpins much of Emily’s work, where depictions of female witches during the German Renaissance and the spirit-board as a method of communication exemplify Emily’s scholarly background with a mystical twist.
Emily has been running Big Ego Books with Raquel Caballero since 2015 and was the co-Editor of DUKE Magazine, an artist magazine focusing on Australian artists and thrift culture between 2005-2009. She was selected as a participant in the Goldrausch Künstlerinnen Projekt 2020. Recent solo exhibitions include Jobcenter Aufgelande Orte Psychic Places, Galerie Wedding (2021), The Machine Elves’ Shoes, Sonneundsolche, Düsseldorf (2021) and group exhibitions Existing Otherwise – The Future of Coexistence at Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art, Ghana (2022) and Aliens are Temporary at Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin. Emily’s work has been exhibited at Hans Arp Museum (Rolandseck, DE), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, AU) Zitadelle Spandau Museum (Berlin, DE) Sim Smith Gallery (London, GB) Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery (Auckland, NZ) and Monopol Galerie (Warsaw, PL).