Kaye Kent discusses the work of Emma Newman.
Bold, funky, striking – words which best describe Liverpool artist Emma Newman’s art. Describing herself as a designer rather than an artist, Emma specialises in mixed media because she finds it exciting, as its endless possibilities keep her mind and motivation fresh. Her playful collages combine a variety of influences, materials and sources of inspiration, which represent Emma’s energy and obsession with mixed media.
Emma has taken mixed media to a whole different level by developing her own technique, combining traditional collage with screen printing, paint and an assortment of imagery.
Her earlier work has a strong urban theme, which are often inspired by just observing street life. Screen prints, car paint, old and new photographs, books, retro ads and other miscellaneous imagery are fascinatingly brought together on the canvas and the finished effect is both bizarre and brilliant.
Her latest series evokes memories based from the 1930’s ‘Wish you Were Here’ picture postcards, and 1950’s scooters and retro motorbikes. Past trends are brought into the present using a similarly eclectic mixture of media and contemporary colours.
One of Emma’s primary inspirations are the posters of American pop artist Robert Rauschenberg, who discovered his interest in the artistic representation of everyday objects and people whilst in the US marines in 1947. His innovative use of unconventional materials such as house hold paint placed him firmly in the 1950’s New York art scene. The Cornish blues and rustic chocolates of British painter Ben Nicholson are also significant to Emma, as she explains:
‘I have tried to keep this series of images raw, using a colour scheme which is very in vogue at the moment. Assembling the material I want to use is the hard part, which is then scanned and manipulated on screen by photographer Peter Davis. I create the backgrounds using anything I can lay my hands on and finish each piece with paint’.
These latest collages are currently on display at Swan house in Beccles, Norfolk – and are well worth a visit. The venue doubles as an exclusive restaurant and gallery which is part of the prestigious British Arts Society. Two pieces are also going to Christies in London, to be auctioned for Cancer Research.
By Kaye Kent MA