Thursday, 14 July 2011

Grays Degree Show Highlights - Emma Armstrong!


So this is the second interview with another new graduate from Grays School of Art. I've met Emma a few times through mutual friends and I was absolutely delighted when I saw her work at the degree show, combining elements of taxidermy, natural history and literature, I don't think it could have been any more up my street! So.........

Who are you and what do you do?


My name is Emma Armstrong, I'm a Printmaking artist that has just graduated from Grays School Of Art. 

Who are some of the artists that your into that I don't know?

To list a few of my favourite artists, John James Audubon, Walton Ford, Damien Hirst, Claire Morgan, Casper David Friedrich, Andy Goldsworthy, Joseph Cornell, Polly Morgan, Kate Mc Dowell, Thomas Cole because of what his painting are about. I love a guy called Josh Keyes, he's an American print maker / painter and his work is astounding, he is undoubtedly one of my favorite artists and I love the themes that he plays with.

Where and how did you get so many dead birds & whats with the dead bird thing?

I found a couple of the birds myself whilst being home. I live behind a woodland and whilst walking its amazing what you can come across. I received 7 of my birds from the Natural History Center in Aberdeen. I e-mailed Marie Fish and told her about my ideas and what I wanted to portray through the use of birds and she gave 7 different species from a robin to a goldfinch for use in my show. There is something so sad about a flightless bird that it stops us in our tracks. I think its because we all feel connected to them in our own ways and to see a creature helpless or dead forces us as humans to look closer at nature, her beauty but also her destructive power and what better way to convey this than through the innocence of a dead bird. I have been following a link called Ghosts of Gone Birds where artists across Britain are showing the same ideas you should check it out!

If you could ask David Attenborough one question what would it be?

David Attenborough is one of my idols, however my question would be simple. What is your favorite animal?

Where do you get your ideas from?

My Ideas evolve from alot of reading. Looking into Darwins theory of evolution, my work from a young age has always had elements of nature within it. I read a book called The World Without Us and its about how nature will ultimately win. I love this idea. Nature is harnessed at the moment due to 21st Century living but what would happen if we weren't here. This is a fantastic element to work with. We forget about nature and I want to force people to see nature for everything she is. Also books like Into The Wild, themes and ideas that we can no longer enter nature yet that is where we feel most free and at ourselves that's where most of my ideas come from .

And finally what does the future hold / plans?

Hmmm future plans, I have a course in September in Taxidermy of Game Birds which shall be awesome and I want to continue creating work alongside taxidermy but also traditional print. I would like to get involved with teaching print to people and create some shows of my own. Maybe get more into natural history, I don't know at the moment everything is up in the air after the show just going to see how it all pans out whilst producing more work. I had great feedback from my degree show and also interesting points from the viewer's so I shall work on that feedback and enjoy life . 

Massive thanks to Emma for taking the time to answer my questions, it was pretty cool walking into her room and seeing these beautiful birds laid out , even cooler that she stuffed a few of them herself! Don't think I'd be up to the job. She has some beautiful prints available like the one below so email here at earmstrong2@hotmail.com I picked up my bird print today, well chuffed!