Meet The Maker – Emily Barker

Emily studied at Bradford College and graduated in 2014 with an Art and Design BA (hons) degree. Working part-time at Heart Gallery enables her to work creatively whilst also concentrating on her own work in her home studio nearby.

The main theme within Emily’s recent work explores the subject of life and death. What particularly interests her is the preservation aspect that is strongly linked to this theme. The seeming ‘fixing’ of something in time that both acknowledges what has been alive and then the transition to death by capturing this ‘frozen in time’ moment.

Emily focuses on plants and animal skulls to create her work. She finds that there is an endless variety to the colours and shapes that appear with the transition from a plant being alive to dying.

The animal skulls she draws show the final stage of the organic form in death and she has a passion for capturing and preserving this beauty within these stages of transformation.

Emily uses a mixture of still life drawing and painting using watercolours or inks, digital photography, collage and sculpture. She takes photographs at the different stages of a plant’s life and edits into these; focusing mainly on the lighting and contrast of each photograph. From these she will draw or paint studies using inks and watercolours. Using the photographs and different papers Emily will collage the images together and then hand sew or draw into them to add to or change the overall composition of the original image.

Once Emily has photographed the dried out plant she then uses the petals and stems to create natural sculptures where she changes the original structure of the plant by threading pieces together in a different composition, this is all done by using fine wire and stitching by hand.

Emily likes to display these pieces in glass bell domes and jars as these vessels remind her of the Victorian curiosity displays, which she finds an interesting way of displaying her work that also then links into her themes.