Monday 30 January 2017

An Interview with Emily Wilkinson

Deborah Wynne asks Emily about her practice as a poet and artist.
DW:  You use text quite often in your art, do the words inspire the artwork, or does the art inspire the words?
EW: They usually evolve at the same time, I find that making visual work evokes a mood which then informs the language I am attracted to, and vice versa. Having said that, I sometimes write words inspired by a visual piece or a photograph, but don’t often come up with artwork based on pre-existing words.
DW: How do you source the materials in your textile art and collages?
EW: I collect magazines, second hand books, postcards and bits of ephemera. It helps to be a bit of a hoarder! I also save scraps of nice paper and offcuts of fabric. Most of the fabrics I use are second hand; either finds from charity shops or old things I cut up. I also create my own surfaces by putting papers and fabrics through processes to make texture and alter colours. Scrapstores are a great resource too, and luckily we have one locally in Church Stretton. 
DW: The natural world seems to be a considerable inspiration for your work – why is this the case?
EW: I’m a country girl at heart and feel happiest when surrounded by nature or not far from wild places. By working creatively with or in landscapes I think we explore our inner emotional worlds. I suppose that for some people that might be cities or urban environments, but for me it’s mountains and oceans. I also find our connection as humans to the natural world fascinating, and care about protecting the environment. 
DW: What are the challenges of creating 3D artwork?
EW: Some of my 3D work is actually quite flat so in a way it’s not so different to working with collage, just in relief. With items such as my paper shoes it’s more like creating a garment from a pattern, these are quite fiddly to make however! I haven’t worked on a large scale in 3D which is where the real challenge would probably come in. 
DW: What are your favourite textile fabrics to work with?
EW: As mentioned earlier I like to work with second hand fabrics to give them a new life, I also like the sense of history and stories they carry. Wool is lovely to work with and I enjoy other natural fibres like linen, bamboo and silk which is one of the reasons I am really looking forward to working with you at Macclesfield Silk Museum next April.
DW: What inspires you to create book arts?
EW: I’ve always loved books and have read a lot since early childhood. I love them as tactile, comforting, intriguing objects and am not draw to kindles or e-books in the slightest! 
DW: How did your film poem, Lines of Flight develop?
EW: It came out of a series of conversations with a friend (and other writer of the piece) Jeppe Dyrendom Grauggard who I met through the Dark Mountain Project ( At the time he was living in Berlin and I in Scotland, and after talking about subjects like home, nomadism and belonging we started an exchange where we filmed clips from the environments we lived in and started writing from them. We were very pleased indeed when it got screened at the Antwerp Filmpoem Festival about three years ago. 
Emily Wilkinson will be running a creative workshop at the Story of Silk event at Macclesfield Silk Museum on 1st April 2017. To find out more about this event, see the previous blog post or email:


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