SafARI Artist Profile - Emma Hamilton
Social Handle: Inland Australia is unknown, seemingly filled with history and intrigue, an inspiration to many Australian Artists. Melbourne-based SafARI Artist Emma Hamilton has had an ongoing interest in white landscapes, perpending the relationship between sculpture and photography. Emma’s current work to be exhibited at SafARI takes inspiration from her research and travel to the dry salt lakes in North Western Victoria. An emerging artist with a passion for public art, Emma has exhibited in Melbourne, Sydney, Launceston and Nantes (France).
Emma’s SafARI work will be displayed at The Corner Cooperative in Chippendale, a reflection and awareness of our Australian landscape.
Describe your aesthetic in a sentence?
I seek to make visible the almost imperceptible.
Tell us a bit about what inspired your body of work for the SafARI event?
My work for SafARI was developed from a series of research trips I made to dry salt lakes in north western Victoria. I was struck by the vast flatness of these blank spaces within the landscape. If you stand at the centre of a dry lakebed you feel almost directionless, and the world around you recedes. I found I became increasingly aware of the horizon, and it became for me a line from which to measure the flatness of the landscape.
In your work there is a continuous interest in white landscapes. What inspires and attracts you to this subject?
The uniformly white landscape suggests that it is blank, and therefore presents a kind of potential from which to work. On the contrary this appearance of ‘nothingness’ can be deceiving. For example, the dry salt lakes appear to be empty spaces within the landscape, however, the salt holds a large repository of water within its crystalline structure. The lake is still there, it is just present in another state.
What is the strength of your work and what is its weakness?
I can be a bit of a perfectionist, which can work either as an advantage and a disadvantage, depending on the circumstance. I also often push my work to have a certain precariousness about it, and sometimes this means I walk a fine line. Invariably I have to pursue multiple solutions for one seemingly simple aspect of each work before I have something that feels resolved.
What can we expect to see at the exhibition?
For SafARI I have produced an object akin to a spirit level, engaging with both the flatness of the dry salt lakes and the all-encompassing horizon line of these landscapes. This will be suspended from the roof at eye-level. I will also be presenting two Perspex objects encrusted with salt crystals that operate in a similar fashion to viewfinders. Both works seek to address the delicacy and precariousness of the salt environment.
Tell us more about your art practice, do you have a specific aim or ethos behind your style of work?
It is important to me that my ideas are in dialogue with the materials I use. I begin with the idea or the context, and build a work from that, sourcing materials based on this starting point. The methods that I use to produce each work inform its wider context.
How did you get involved with SafARI?
I submitted an application to SafARI’s national call out for proposals, and I was lucky enough to be chosen.
Looking at your current and previous work, overhead projectors are used in your installations, for you what is the relationship between light and art?
For me the relationship lies in the presentation of images within my practice. I come from a sculptural background, yet photography has become an integral part of my work. Projecting photographs was a way for them to inhabit the same space as the sculptural works, and at the same time returns the images to their mode of production: light.
How do you see your work in relation to that of other artists working predominantly with landscape?
There is such a rich history of artists working with landscape, and this history documents our relationship with our context and surroundings. In Australia many artists, including me, are drawn to remote locations because for most of the population, inland Australia is an unknown. This is quite a puzzling circumstance and an intriguing idea to deal with.
Within my work landscape often operates as a medium through which to explore other ideas, such as the notion of perception, which need subject matter to be made visible.
What do you believe is the key element in creating art?
You can’t be afraid of taking risks with your practice, it’s the only way to learn and develop.
What international art destination do you most want to visit?
I am thrilled to be going on a three-month residency this year to Paris with the Australia Council for the Arts. While Paris is no longer the centre of the art world, so much of contemporary practice is informed by French theory and philosophy. Alongside my undergraduate degree at Monash University I also studied a Diploma of French, which opened up new areas for me to explore.
During my residency I will be researching photographs taken by the sculptor Brancusi of his own work, which are held in archives in the Pompidou Centre. I am drawn to these photographs because I am interested in how the view through the camera lens alters our perception of Brancusi’s work.
What under-appreciated artist, gallery, or work do you think people should know about?
I think people need to look to their own backyards for this. Find out about your own local art spaces and support them by visiting.
Who is your favourite living artist?
At the moment I have been looking at the work of Roni Horn quite a lot, both her large casts in glass and photographs. They speak eloquently of nuance and perception. I am particularly interested in artists who cross between object-based work and photography.
Where can we see your work?
I have a few exhibitions in Melbourne this year. Until the end of March I am showing in the Linden Art Prize exhibition at Linden Centre for Contemporary Art. In May and August I will be showing in group exhibitions at Anna Pappas and Bus Projects. In October I will be exhibiting work from my residency in Paris in a solo exhibition at Blindside.
Catch Emma Hamilton for SafARI event:
The Corner Cooperative
116 Abercombie Street, Chippendale
12 – 6 pm, Wed- Sun
By Daffodil Zarco
Photographs credit: Christian Capurro