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Meet the Artist...

Continuing our series of posts where we'll get to know more about the fantastic artists that have worked to help deliver all of the creative activity during the Greater Creative project. Up next is Emma Reynard.

What artistic medium(s) do you work in?

Drawing is the basis of all my work; however I love to experiment with materials. This can range from paint, print, textiles, collage to large-scale 3D work.

I tend to apply the medium to the concept of what I am working on at the time, this could be a gestural ink drawing or huge pieces of cardboard and plaster for a sculptural piece.

Tell us a bit about yourself…How long have you been working as an artist? What was your journey to get to this point?

After leaving school I went to art college and completed my Foundation in Art & Design before studying for my BA in Textiles at Manchester Metropolitan University. After this I worked with numerous theatre companies, building sets, making puppets and huge textile backdrops. I loved the diversity of this work and I met lots of interesting people along the way.

I then went on to do a 2 year Setting up Scheme in an Art Gallery/Education Centre. I was Artist in Residence with 2 other artists, we all had our own studio and would lead sessions with schools and teaching staff in the gallery a few times a week. This gave me a strong introduction into working with Art Education, after the 2 years I set up an art partnership with one of the other artists. We worked together leading Inset days for teachers and went into schools to lead art workshops and residencies with the pupils.

I then moved to Oxford where I taught Art part time in an independent school, however by this point I was starting to feel frustrated that my own artwork was getting pushed aside. This led to me doing an MA at Central St Martins in Illustration. I loved the 2 years there and spent a lot of time in the photography department doing medium format photography. While in Oxford I was a visiting artist at The Museum of Natural History where I became intrigued by the entomology (insect) collections. I spent a lot of time opening drawers of insects, observing them through a microscope and drawing them in intricate detail.

Five years ago, I relocated to Derbyshire where I have continued to pursue my own work and work in education and communities. I am currently working on ideas for a picture book and collaborating with a glass artist on an exciting body of work.

What was your motivation to work in the arts and what do you get out of the process of making art?

I have always loved drawing and making things so going to art college was the best decision I could have made. I loved getting up in the morning knowing that I was going to a place where I could get to be creative all day, it was like hitting the jackpot.

My work now is a combination of things I loved at school Art, English, History and Science. These are the things which inspire me and make me happy. I love learning new things and am passionate about how nature can inform art. I am currently collaborating with a glass maker, creating artwork inspired by micro-organisms and investigating how we can work with scientists to create biologically inspired pieces using solar cells to generate energy.

What are your thoughts about the Greater Creative project now that you’ve been involved with some of the project work?

I think the Greater Creative project has been a brilliant approach to get the local community thinking about ways that they can use art to improve their area and how art can impact on the way we all feel.

The many Greater Creative community workshops have been a fantastic way for people to get together and learn new skills as well as making something beautiful for everyone in the community to enjoy. I have enjoyed being able to work alongside other local artists on different briefs and to see each person’s responses and outcomes. Working as an artist can be quite isolating at times, but the Greater Creative project has brought us together, to inspire one another and share ideas.

I have also enjoyed working on the Interpretation Boards project for Greater Creative. I’ve learnt so much about the local heritage through research and talking to the community. Having the position of illustrating the different phases of the history of Blackwell Parish has been a rewarding experience; seeing the end results come into fruition and the residents feeling proud of the final artwork. It feels great to leave this artistic legacy for the Parish to enjoy and learn new things about their heritage.

How does working with Greater Creative differ from your usual commissions?

Over the years I have worked for many different organisations, including Public Art commissions, work in hospitals, homeless hostels, schools etc. Working for Greater Creative has been distinctive as it has focused on the community where I currently live. I have really enjoyed this aspect as it has enabled me to learn about the history of the area but also to meet local artists, schools, and members of the community. It has been a unique experience to be able to create work in this way, and I definitely feel more part of the community through my involvement in this body of work.

I enjoy meeting new people and showing them new skills and ways of working, through Greater Creative I have been able to accomplish this through workshops with both adults, local school children and community events.

During the Interpretation Board project, I have been working more digitally which has been a new challenge for me, it has developed my own approaches and working practices about how to take this process forward for future commissions.

Overall, how do you feel about being involved with the Greater Creative project?

I feel that having the opportunity to be involved with the Greater Creative project has been a special time for me as an artist. It has been wonderful seeing the work which has been made with the community come together at the many events, and also to see how the local school children respond to working with an artist. I think the area has definitely benefitted from all the input from this unique project and can appreciate how art can improve the local community in many ways.

Where can people go to find out more about you and view your work?

My blog about the glass collaboration:

Instagram: @emma.reynard

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