During Emilie’s time at Testing Grounds, she will focus on her special practice, particularly with viewing devices, investigating the impact on her work in public space. She will also work on producing a new body of work for a solo show programmed at Forty-five Downstairs Gallery in late January 2020.
Emilie is a Melbourne based artist currently finishing her PhD at the Victorian College of the Arts on the narratives and imagination of adventure. She works with a range of media, from video to printmaking and 3D printing. She is also a comic book artist and her works have been published in The Lifted Brow and by Tree paper comics.
Since I moved into Testing Grounds Studio I am allowing my practice to explore in a range of different directions. Recently finishing a PhD at the nearby VCA is allowing me to feel free to try a new type of practice, outside of the Art School institution and research framework. It’s a good feeling! At the moment, my practice is going in three directions: fabricating viewing boxes, keeping a drawing journal, reflecting on my practice and a growing interest in trying my practice with engagement and community program.
I am fascinated by viewing boxes and devices. I particularly love the intimate relationship that looking at an image through a device creates. When I peer through a pair of binoculars – in awe of the magical power of the lenses – bringing the far away so close to my eye, I let go an ’ooooh’ sounds in fascination. If a friend is standing next to me, I feel them eager, anxious to have a go and see what I am seeing. But I don’t see them, I don’t see anything, my face is hidden, absorbed by the binoculars, I’m teleported far away, here is what I am looking at. I am making a pair of viewing boxes, each containing an enigmatic image of the back of an eye. You will be able to see the blind spot, the light reflecting at the back to the retinas, a single eye staring at you through the peeping hole.
Keeping a drawing journal to test out ideas, reflect on conversations and shows, as well as document my creative process is really helping me to push my practice in a new direction. I would like to find a platform to share those drawing, but I am unsure of what is best suited at the moment.
I made a couple of small wood prints that will be presented at the next exhibition at Fortyfive Downstairs Gallery, ‘Small’. A ‘Pie and tomato sauce’, and a ‘Daruma doll’ woodprint. the opening is on the 29th of November, come and check it out! I have also been listening avidly to Pro Prac Podcast: it’s a podcast where artists talk about their professional practice: concrete things – like how to have a sustainable practice and a balanced lifestyle! It feels good to hear artist talking about their practice in that way!
I had a quiet month at Testing Ground and I have mostly been focusing on drawings, collage and digital illustrations. I have some exciting outcome coming up early next year with a solo show at FortyFive downstairs gallery and launch of a new magazine, Resource, for which I have been working on the graphic content. I also started a collective with three other artists: The Sandwich Orkestra. We are working on a project together: ‘The one time only incredible reading machine’, which is a reading booth making a short story accessible one time only. In the ‘One time only incredible reading machine’, participants walk inside a reading booth for half an hour. They are offered a story to read on a scroll that they activate with a crank. The story unfolds in front of the visitor as he discovers it, for one time only. Once the reader reaches the end of the story, the mechanism blocks, with no way to scroll back. You can only read it once. Once the visitor leaves, the machine is reset for the next reader. At the end of the first phase, the story-scroll will be destroyed from existence (we’re thinking fire). In the next phase of the project, participants recollection of the story will constitute a one-off closing event in the form of an exhibition showing the story
The desire to start working collectively emerge organically from conversations with friends and ideas we want to see happen. But it is also a will to be stronger together, share the workload, and emulate one another. With the ‘One time only incredible reading machine’ we wanted to bring together the writing of Micah Higbed, in a spatial and immersive experience put together by Eric Jong, Julia Goldworthy and myself. We wanted to investigate the value and attention given to reading in a digital age when everything is available at all time everywhere.
Working collectively is a different and exciting approach to a creative practice. It is stimulating and motivating.At the moment in the collective, I am working on the illustrations and design for the visual identity of our group, to help Eric Jong build our website and internet presence. Julia Goldworthy who is a production designer is working on ideas for the making of the reading booth. Finally, Micah has been working on the short story and is applying to writers festivals to show our project, and I am helping with the admin aspect of our group as well. The limits of our role in the collective are fluid and we organically pick up different tasks and swap roles. We are a young group and in the future, we might take a more structured approach, but at the moment that exploration and building phase is suited to what we do.
I also want to tell you about ‘Tree Paper Gallery’ – Formerly ‘Tree Paper Comics’ in the Docklands. It is opening a new space in the Campbell Arcade, under Flinders Street Station. It is a temporary occupation of the space for 7 months before construction work begins in the arcade. The gallery is opening on the 14th of December, with its first group show in early January. The space is also a Risograph printer and will run workshops and show focusing on zines, prints, and independent comics culture. Tree Paper printed my first Graphic Novel ‘FYFM’ in 2018, and I’ll be working again on new collaboration in 2020.