8 Sep 2017

Q&A with artist Emma Garness

Something In-between – an exploration of light, shade and colour.

Painter Emma Garness is inspired by stories, nostalgia and memories. 

Her first solo exhibition is now open at Queens House, Paragon St, Hull City Centre and captures a rather special atmosphere. Her large-scale works feature energetic brush strokes, pushing and pulling different elements across the canvas surface. 

We spoke to Emma to find out what inspires her paintings of ghostly trees and dreamy forests which capture the true beauty of nature. 

How long have you been practicing as an artist? 

I have been lucky enough to have always worked in the creative industry. This has been from illustrating bouncy castles, to sign writing, to scenic painting. My easel and paints are always on hand.


How does it feel to have your first solo exhibition at Queens House?

I am thrilled. The location is very central making it easy for people to find or to come across. 

My show of work has fitted very nicely in the space provided too. Most of my work is on large-scale canvas and the size of space at Queens House complements this. 

While the exhibition is on, I will be painting in the space every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am to 4pm too. 


© Emma Garness


How do themes around stories, nostalgia and memories influence your work? 

I love to collect bits and bobs that hold a sense of memory and story within them. When painting I take snippets from these items, sketches, photos, colour combinations and textures.  

To help me find a way of expressing the image I’m working on, this could include using the objects themselves or by simply using thinner paint to create ghostly trees, giving a sense of past times. 


Nature seems to play a prominent role in your work – what are your favourite places to escape to in and around Hull? 

We live in such a wonderful position on the map to explore. A spit away, we have a great coastline. I love Fraisthorpe and Whitby. Walks in the moors can be therapy in all weathers. 

My family are all from Hull. Our Sunday runs out with my mum and dad would sometimes end up in the old fishing docks which is where my grandad worked and would have some great stories. I think I have to make my next series of paintings exploring this.

Which locations did you use as inspiration for Something In-between? 

The Westwood, which is common land has been used a lot as inspiration for my paintings. My kids love going into the woods, we take our dog for walks there. There is always a rope swing to have a muck about on or mud sliding. 

I also like being in the woods surrounded by the light coming through the trees and the sudden spaces in between them.

© Emma Garness

Which piece from the exhibition would you say was the most enjoyable to create? 

The two long portrait-shaped pieces were brilliant to work on. The shape of the canvas is ideal for the shape of the trees, the richness of the colour choices is moreish and to find a great colour combination is such a good feeling. 


You also enjoy creating art with schools and communities – what is the most rewarding part about creating with children? 

Working with youngsters or groups is vital to me as it makes me think further into a project. You can’t help but be pulled along by other people’s enthusiasm which, in turn, gives you new inspiration. 

Working within schools, I like how the students can see a process in finding and producing visual art, something they can see and touch and be proud of. Something they were part of.

© Emma Garness

You were also part of the team who created the Hessle Road murals – how did you contribute to this and what did you help create? 

To be part of a team of people working on a large-scale project can be wonderful, the banter is like a breath of fresh air. 

The Goodwin Trust team were behind the Hessle Road mural project and when visiting them I sensed they could do with an extra pair of hands, I concentrated on the light reflecting on the sea. In the pouring rain we had a good laugh and got the job done. I could only give them a short amount of time but every little helps. 

The best part was taking my dad to see the murals up close a week later – he grew up down Hessle Road and the connection is there, it brought up a good conversation.


Where do you hope to take your work in the future? 

To as many people as possible.

Emma would like to thank Creative ENRG who have mentored and guided her through the process of putting the show together and the support of Gill Hobson and her team.

Something In-between by Emma Garness is on show at Queens House, Paragon Street, Hull from 6 September to 6 October. 

You can discover more of Emma’s work online.


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