In her final year at the prestigious Chelsea College of Arts, Emily Thomas is a young visual artist who explores and challenges the boundaries of painting. La peau de l’ours is proud to present “Disintegrating Space” and “Liminal Ecosystems”, two projects of the artist who has a very bright future.
I have always had a fascination with colour. In 2012, I visited the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. This was my first visit to a major art exhibition. Hockney’s use of colour inspired me to continue developing the visual drama of colour in my practice.
In 2014, I began studying for my Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Camberwell College of Arts. Here I was exposed to a wide range of different artists, exhibitions and points of inspiration. I began using collage as a way to explore composition in painting. My tutor, David Batchelor, introduced me to artists who used similar techniques, such as Thomas Scheibitz, Dexter Dalwood and Dominic Beattie.
From all these artists, Dominic Beattie influenced me most, as he inspired me to experiment with three-dimensional painting and collage.
From here, and during my fine art degree at Chelsea College of Arts, a profound interest in sculpture and installation developed. I became interested in artists such as Phyllida Barlow, Jessica Stockholder and Katharina Grosse, whose installations sit somewhere between painting, sculpture, object and architecture.
I am intrigued by our human desire to define everything in terms of function and formality...
This is an observation of architect Robert Venturi and is often the main conceptual focus of my work.
My practice also embraces architecture and gentrification. These interests have been informed primarily by Grayson Perry’s article in the Independent, ‘Grayson Perry: “London needs affordable housing” because “rich people don’t create culture”‘, as well as by photographer Jenny Lewis‘ ‘Hackney Studios’ project, and Joanne Preston’s article ‘From Ferrier Estate to Kidbrooke Village: Decoding a ‘Place in the Making’.
‘Disintegrating Space’ is a three-dimensional painting series that is based on my own photographs taken of architecture found in Peckham, Brixton and Lewisham.
The work aims to signify the importance of these affordable areas of London for creative people, alongside persistent gentrification and the ever-growing London housing crisis. The bright colours within the work generate a dramatic visual effect. They are representative of affordable areas of London as exciting creative hubs, full of opportunities and inspiration, provided by creative people, and shared with all.
‘Disintegrating Space’ is made up of 17 different sections. While each part has the prominence to stand alone, the series also works as an entire painting installation.
When arranged in this way, each section decreases in density as it moves further away from the centre of the installation. This reflects the increasing destruction of affordable housing in London.
These sculptures were originally inspired by my photographs of architecture found within two contrasting areas of London: Peckham and Holborn.
Architecture in Peckham is colourful and full of character, representative of its creative and multicultural surroundings.
There are also examples of affordable housing and brutalist architecture. Many abandoned areas have been taken over and developed into exciting active spaces, such as the old multi-storey car park that is now known as the Bussey Building Rooftop Bar and Cinema Club.
Holborn presents a wider range of different architecture. It is a much wealthier area and many buildings have been gentrified. However, unusual brutalist architecture, such as the Brunswick Residential and Shopping Centre, is still in place, as well as Lincoln’s Inn, which is the oldest Inn of Court, dating back to the 15th century.
This artwork brings together the architecture of Peckham and Holborn, thus creating a rich celebration of contrasting architecture in London.