13 Apr Emily Tapp on Paintings, Collages and Finding Inpisration
Hi Emily! First of all I just want to say that I love your paintings. When and why did you start painting? Have you done it since you were a child or is it something that you’ve started doing when you got older?
I have always made art, since I was very little. My mum had a huge influence on me when I was younger – and still does – she always encouraged creativity and spent hours reading, drawing, playing and painting with me. I don’t think I’d be a painter or even at art school now if it wasn’t for my mum enriching my creative mind from a young age.
Why did you want to go to art school?
I chose to go to art school after sixth form because I wanted to give myself a chance to pursue the career I knew that I wanted, deep down. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, I was incredibly academic at school; my teachers and career advisors wanted me to follow a more traditional route at University, such as Art History, Psychology or English Literature. I would have been happy doing either, but I knew that art practice was incredibly important to me and I was lucky enough to have the support from my parents to allow me to do so. I can’t go a day and not create in some aspect… So it made sense to come to a specialist Arts University to really indulge myself in that passion for three years.
I first got to know you as a food photographer. Does your experience as a food photographer help you in your work as an artist?
Food photography was another element that made choosing to come to art school a tricky decision. My business was going really well the summer after I finished A Levels and I was tempted to put off University for a few years and focus on building my company. I’m still working in food photography in my free time though, despite focusing a lot of my time and energy to Fine Art. I think it gives me balance. If I was just a painter, or if I was just a photographer, I could get stuck in my ways and never look to improving what I’m doing. Switching between the two allows me to push both my art practice and my food photography business with two different perspectives.
What inspires you?
What inspires me is a hard question. It constantly evolves. Where I live, here in Cornwall, is a huge influence on my work. It’s hard to live by the ocean, as an artist, and not be completely enthralled by the coast and it’s treasures. It always manages to sneak into my work, somehow. I’m also inspired by my peers in the studio; working alongside other talented painters, print-makers, sculptors and performance artists means that a quick wander around the studios will more than likely give me a creative un-block.
Can you describe your work process from your first sketches to finished paintings?
I work in multiple sketchbooks. My studio journal, where I scribble names for paintings, artists of interest and general thoughts. In another sketchbook I make line drawings from the coast when I’m out and about. The marks made in this sketchbook usually end up being recycled into my collage sketchbook, which has become a basis for my newer work and larger paintings. I focus on line, colour, shape and composition in these small trials. Translating these to a bigger scale is where the paint comes into the picture.
Your collages are amazing! How do they help you in the process when your painting?
My collages work as a reference for my paintings in terms of composition, but the collage element also comes into play in my finished pieces. My paintings incorporate cut-outs of monoprints I have made in the print room, pieces from ordnance survey maps and other found or previously created materials.
Why do you love painting so much?
I love painting because I love responding to my surroundings. It’s just one of the ways I document – I also write and I photograph. I hate to romanticise the process of painting but there is an element of truth to it – the process is really important to me. Getting into the studio, getting a coffee, looking over yesterday’s work, perhaps working on a few collages and then going back to my current painting to attempt to solve any riddles in it. I also love painting because I love working in layers; spending time making collages has given me a new appreciation for that. Mistakes can easily be transformed into something with visual harmony.
If you could have dinner with any artist in the world, who would it be and why? What and where would you eat?
If I could have dinner with any artist in the world it would be painter Ivon Hitchens. Over his artistic career he developed a distinctive style in which vibrant, painterly areas of colour were pieced together on canvas to evoke an abstract representation of the English landscape. Hitchens’ work has inspired me for a long time – the sense of the landscape in his work is more important than a visually accurate representation, which is something I’m currently exploring in my own painting practice. If we were in Falmouth, we would eat at my local vegan restaurant Wildebeest, which also happens to be my favourite place to eat. I would order the espresso chocolate hazelnut torte for dessert – it’s better than any dessert, vegan or not, I’ve eaten in my lifetime.