artist / participant
London based artist Emma Hart (b.1974, London) makes sculpture, photography, film and installation. Her work is often badly-behaved and messy, challenging assumptions and stereotypes in her quest to make art to which everyone can relate. We are delighted that Emma accepted our invitation to make this, her first exhibition in Scotland, and responded with a series of entirely new work, which we are showing alongside the major recent work Mamma Mia!, made as part of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women which she won in 2016.
This exhibition highlights Hart’s work with ceramics, a material she turned to in order to find the ‘real' in art: ‘clay can be an exciting way to talk about chaos … what is immediately important is how personal it is. There’s a very raw direct relationship between the clay and my hands’.
Mamma Mia! is an immersive, beguiling, engulfing installation. You look at it by walking through and around it, pushing your head up into a sequence of large ceramic heads/jugs/lamps which hang from the ceiling, projecting light in speech bubbles onto the floor. The work takes the family as a familiar context: the heads/jugs/lamps hang in family groups, disrupted by slowly moving fans whose blades are ceramic knives, forks and spoons. The newer works in the exhibition use the similarly common ground of the car and urban landscape to look at how we navigate the world and understand ourselves within it, with sculptures that place us and our families in relation to windscreens, road signs, car bonnets and steering wheels.
Hart was awarded the biannual Max Mara Prize in 2016, and spent much of year working on a research residency in Italy, observing the work of family therapists at a renowned psychotherapy school in Milan, looking at the funerary sculpture of Rome, and studying with the master ceramicists in Faenza to learn the technical skills for the making of the traditional form of faience, which Faenza gives its name to. Hart is interested in the way ceramics traditionally manifest relationships – ‘if you were married here in the 16th century, you’d be given a plate’ – and she traces the connection between decorated crockery and her research into family therapy, in the observation of ‘human patterns’.
New Book We are publishing a new book to accompany the exhibition. As well as looking back over the last several years of Hart’s career, it includes installation photography of the new work made for the exhibition, and new writing by Fruitmarket Director Fiona Bradley, curator and writer Helen Legg and artist and filmmaker Sarah Wood. We are particularly delighted that writer Ali Smith has written a new short story for the book, inspired by visits to Emma Hart’s studio during the making of BANGER.