A precarious life is the norm as an artist and human in the 21st century. Fluxing socio-economics, zero hours contracts and the threat of environmental extinction precariously shape who we are and how we survive in the contemporary. With this body of work, Emma Edmondson explores the impact of these fluxes within art, education and the wider world.
A mountain can be both a peak of accomplishment or a point to fall from. Fluxing mountainous landscapes also haunt the stock market; charting financial losses and gains or visually marking the start of a recession. Throughout Edmondson’s practice, the emblem of the mountain returns continuously, ever-enduring through a variety of media and aesthetics. A mountain formed from the papier-mâché of a years’ teaching admin from the artist’s day job(s). Small mountains inhabit the wall, forming an impractical (and decorative) rock climbing wall. In a triptych of graphs, they reappear as Edmondson depicts her own artistic productivity in correlation with financial recessions and again in a painted mural. The mountains symbolise the Eternal Return, survival and demise – the climb, the exertion of labour, leading to a fall. Is creativity a survival instinct?
The sound work, art teacher loop, circles the same sentence until it deconstructs to form new meanings. Now more than ever, job security and success, adequate education and subject specific language are unattainable, formed in hierarchic smoke. Disrupting the very language, Edmondson aims to reclaim it, and questions how such hierarchies can be disrupted – or “edited”.Foil survival blankets form an impromptu sculpture at the centre of the show, constructed onsite in a limited timeframe. Edmondson works explicitly with the two most vital materials of art-making: labour and time. Clay sculptures are blind-fired. Edmondson risks time and labour, demonstrating the precarity of not just artistic practice, but the turbulent political and economic landscape artists cannot help but to operate in.
Emma Edmondson (b. 1984)
Lives and works in Southend on Sea. Graduating during the 2008 financial crash and tuition fee rises, investigations into dystopian survival and utopian community are at the centre of her research and practice. She uses sculpture, print, sound, and text, exploring her interests directly via her workin art education.
In 2015 Edmondson founded TOMA (The Other MA), a postgraduate level art programme outside of the traditional institutional model. Designed to fit the everyday lives of 21st century artists, the programme is shaped by its participants, and was created in response to the hierarchies surrounding access to higher education. Edmondson sees TOMA as partof her creative practice.
Rose Cleary (b. 1990)
Also from Southend on Sea, has contributed labour in the form of a text included in the exhibition library. Edmondson and Cleary collaborate frequently; influenced by their shared experiences in arts education and the professional context. Cleary has worked with performance and film to address the structuring of the art experience, in a practice which has developed into writing as a form of documentary and critique.
Mae bywyd ansicr yn gyffredin i artist a pherson yn y 21ain ganrif. Llif economeg gymdeithasol, contractau dim oriau a bygythiad marwolaeth amgylchedd sy’n llunio pwy y rydym, a sut rydym yn goroesi yn y byd sydd ohoni. Gyda’r gwaith yma, mae Emma Edmondson yn archwilio‘r trawiad o’r llifoedd hyn o fewn celf, addysg a’r byd ehangach.