Emma Fenelon often uses materials like local clays, saying these add to the stories contained in her work and sometimes, such as when she has used human ash, change what we think we see.
Driving her work is a fascination for making a mark, exploring what remains, what records passing time, how things survive, and what we can read in these traces. The layered surfaces of her tall totemic sculptures are a patchwork quilt of imprinted detail. Emma rolls out slabs of clay and then searches her environment for things that will make a mark. Some patterns are old favourites: a piece of lace, an old wood block, a toy. Other patterns come from things chanced upon like the soles of shoes, drain covers and local plants; in this way each sculpture records in subtle ways, the environment it was created in.
Her latest tower of half remembered and imagined buildings is called “Hireath” a welsh word which contains both a keening longing for home, with the edge of fiction, in that maybe it never existed.
Emma’s work exploring rooms, boats, and single buildings often have an element of ambivalence between our domestic spaces and the natural environment, for instance with trees growing in the bathroom. She has been asked about children’s books like Max and the Wild things as influences and credits the fictitious Narnia and many other books as places of inspiration.
Emma cites the interwoven stories of the writer Georges Perec as an influence, particularly the way he talks about questioning the small infra-ordinary; the non-extraordinary common details of our lives. All the things we miss, as he asks us to question our teaspoons and look under our wallpaper, to question what we otherwise miss.
Emma’s current series of work “Safe Home” takes it genesis from a meeting of both her own internal wonderings and our current crises. “Safe Home” reconnoitres ambivalent relationships between indoors and outdoors; staying and leaving while wondering where and how shelter is found?