Emily Hawkes MET Portfolio 2020

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Process Portfolio


Curatorial Rationale

The thematic thread in my exhibition deals with pattern and light in an exploration of the surface of water. My intention was to create a compelling exhibition illustrating these ideas through a variety of media from watercolour to card relief, to prints, to sculpture, to installation, some of which are inspired by Japanese art forms. I found an appreciation for the intricacies of ever-changing water surfaces through frequent visits to a dew pond at Ditchling Beacon. The surface of the water changes drastically depending on seasonal and day-by-day weather changes. From a glassy veneer to fast moving ripples, I have enjoyed documenting these in photographs.


In my artwork I have been able to illustrate the idea of contrast. Including transparency to opaqueness; calm to wild; and light to dark. This was achieved through the manipulation of translucent fabrics, paper cut relief and tones of paint.


The clarity of line and pattern in Bridget Riley’s work (Hayward Gallery) and in the Japanese Ukiyo-e ‘pictures of the floating world’ exhibition (Museum of Brighton) both of which I saw last year, have inspired my own practices. Additionally, the Olafur Eliasson exhibition at the Tate Modern blew my mind! His nature-focused installation pieces and light projection through objects into another space has particularly captured my imagination.


Having explored various media, I considered ink and bleach to be the most effective at conveying stark light with dark contrasting tones of a lake scene in my piece ​New Hampshire, New England. W​ hilst in New Hampshire, US, I spent some evenings on the lake watching the sunset spill behind the trees. I really wanted to communicate an essense of this scene in my work and to convey this effect of light patterns created by the sun onto the surface of the water. Ink and bleach offers such brightness against the darkness.


Similar attention to detail is mirrored in the piece ​GAH!​ ​where I took the same subject matter of water patterns but instead developed the idea through relief. It was a project using recycled materials where I selected the strongest but most malleable cardboard mainly from household food packaging in order to create smooth curves (some cardboard does not bend like this). I learnt a lot about gluing methods and which glues work best. At the start of the project I explored the idea of colour and tone gradation by laying out the recycled packaging materials in different formats. However, my final idea focused more on the gradation of small intricately placed pieces building to large, wild wayward shapes in order to depict the change which takes place in the ripples over time.


The title ​Seascape and mountain scape in-brain​ is a recognition for how traditional Japanese landscape print artists titled their work. ​‘In-brain’​ is referring to the imagined location of my ‘scape’. Recognition is also given to the composition of the prints themselves - i.e. thin, vertical forms. These prints are presented in the exhibition prior to the ​visual manifestation of a water’s surface, whereby both explore traditional Japanese art forms, woodblock print and shibori fabric manipulation.


The ​visual manifestation of a water’s surface​ i​s placed at the end of my exhibition as an installation surrounded by three walls. It incorporates light and motion inviting the viewer to stand and watch. Being boxed in creates a unique engagement with the viewer to focus on the artwork without distractions. It creates a dark space to accentuate the spotlight reflections. The incorporation of a slow motor which gently rotates the piece allows for viewing from various angles, enhancing the experience. Whilst the other pieces follow the visual representation of looking down onto the surface of water, this piece seeks to invite viewers to imagine looking up from underneath the water towards the light above.

Title: Slinky Tree

Medium: wood (found), wire, mirrored paper, tissue paper

Size: 100cm x 46cm

This one is directly inspired by the works of Tony Cragg, particularly ‘Spring’ and ‘Anter’. It presents almost like a skeletal tree and progresses from curvy to straight to curvy tree rings.

Title: GAH!

Medium: recycled packaging card (reused but initially purchased)

Size: 63cm x 63cm

This one took me a very long time. It was inspired by the intricate nature of Japanese paper cut (Kirie) and also by ripples created on a water’s surface. Each individual card piece began small increasing towards larger, more undomesticated shapes reflecting the energy that water can have.

Title: A Study In Green (i)

Size: 42cm x 58cm

Medium: colour pencils

Unlike my other exhibition pieces, this was not one with water in mind. After looking at Lena Virginia Kilpatrick’s work, a fauvist artist who uses an unorthodox choice of colour to create landscape scenes, I decided to emanate this style of art too. This is my most animated piece and a self-portrait.

Title: A Study In Green (ii)

Medium: acrylic paint, posca pen

Size: 61cm x 77cm

This is an observational painting of a plant, the yellow line is key to drawing your eye around the painting. Texture is created by the scraping away of the paint and the tissue paper relief on the red leaf. The orange dots help to accentuate the shadows, creating depth.

Title: Sea Scape And Mountain Scape In-brain

Size: 21cm x 46cm (19 x 14 individually)

Medium: card and coloured ink, woodblock (hand-made)

Directly influenced by Japanese landscape artists such as Hiroshige and Hokusai, I decided I wanted to try creating some woodblock prints myself. I took part in a course making your own woodblock prints where they were also exhibiting some of the original prints from the Edo period in Japan. I was researching Hokusai for my comparative study so it was a great opportunity to see some of his prints first-hand.

Title: 7 Sisters

Medium: fine liner and watercolour

Size : A4

This piece depicts the Seven Sisters near Seaford from sea-level and was created through secondary photos.

Title: New Hampshire, New England

Medium: ink, bleach and ink pen

Size: 84cm x 59cm

This piece was inspired by the light patterns I saw created by the sun, when I spent the evening watching a sunset spill onto a lake in the state of New Hampshire. I was able to capture the contrast between the light-touched patches and darker areas by using ink and bleach.

Title: Visual Manifestation Of A Water's Surface

Medium: organza, yarn, hula hoop (purchased), 2x spotlights and a motor (purchased)

Size: 245cm x 65cm

This is the culmination piece of all my work over the course. It’s an experimentation using Japanese fabric manipulation technique, shibori. After seeing Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition at the Tate (where a lot of his pieces are around nature), it inspired me to create an installation piece myself surrounding the same theme. I intended to create two surfaces of water - on the circular ring and the reflection it creates on the floor. Use of two lights created a venn diagram adding an extra, lighter layer to the floor piece.


Comparative Study