Interviews

Artist Spotlight #45: Emma Young

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Emma Young’s colourful and nostalgic glass works bring a touch of class and immortality to legendary South Aussie snacks and traditions. In this interview, Emma recounts her fortuitous discovery of her love for practising visual arts and discusses her seeking of inspiration from fond memories or special places.

Q: Hello Emma! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

A: Hi Kat! Adelaide girl born and bred, I have a close knit family and fantastic groups of friends. I enjoy netball and volleyball, and I initially left high school to study Psychology. Feeling too overwhelmed at only 18 years old, I switched degrees to join a friend in Visual Arts. I tried my hand at blowing glass and, man, was it difficult?! But it was a challenge worth facing, as the magic of working hot glass is addictively fascinating. I’m now part of the two year trainee program at JamFactory in the glass studio, and am very exciting to see where this incredible craft takes me!

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Frog Cakes. Photo Credit: Lara Merrington

Q: Who inspires you? What inspires your art?

A: My work began as a homage to South Australian icons. In 2015, I traveled overseas and visited a friend in Montreal who showed me around, introducing me to the unique facets in her city. This really got me thinking about what I value in my home town, and sparked feelings of deep appreciation and pride for South Australian people and businesses. I feel a yearning to support and honour locals, and try to share that message with like-minded people. Establishing connections with the audience through collective memory and mutual understanding of the subject really drives my work.

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Frog Cakes. Photo Credit: Lara Merrington

Q: Do you have a preferred medium?

A: I think it’s fairly obvious that I love working with hot glass – there’s just so many magical possibilities. Also working at the JamFactory are artists in the mediums of wood, metal, ceramic and textiles, so I’m aiming to collaborate and gain new experiences with the help of my crafty friends.

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Frog Cakes. Photo Credit: Lara Merrington 

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Some might say kitsch, and I won’t disagree, but also animated, bright, playful and friendly. I try to involve mystery in with recognisable features so the work is somewhat of a puzzle to understand. The name usually gives it away, though. I like the audience to recognise what my work is referencing.

2016_lara_merrington-eyg-1FruchocsPhoto Credit: Lara Merrington

Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process i.e.: from lingering idea to putting it into practice?

A: I take cues from recurring or defining instances as I was growing up, or throughout the history of a significant place. I like to talk with others about what products or experiences they recall fond memories of, and then consider that in a relevant and/or functional glass interpretation. There is a lot of sketching and prototyping in clear glass before moving on to colour, then lots of back-and-forth with asking people’s feedback, and then going back to the workshop to iron out the kinks. Many ideas sit brewing in between spurts of development before a true conclusive and refined product can be reached. Glass blowing is a very social craft, as you always need at least one assistant to make work viably, so ideas naturally develop with continuous conversation and input from others.

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FruchocsPhoto Credit: Lara Merrington

Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the next five years?

A: Next year, I’ll be very focussed on making work for the end of year exhibition, ‘Generate.’ After that, I’ll throw myself into the world as an ‘emerging artist’ and will be applying for various grants, residencies and classes all around the world. I would love to return to the States as they have a large glass scene with specialised schools and conferences. Networking is a lot of fun within the friendly glass community of the world.

david-peddler-holding-fruchoc-bowl FruchocsPhoto Credit: Lara Merrington

Q: If you could recommend one artist, who would it be?

A: Just one?! I’m going to cheat and mention a few. JamFactory is accessed by glass artists at all stages of their careers. This means we often get to mingle and joke around with the legendary Nick Mount who has a wealth of knowledge on absolutely everything. A few other established artists whose character and work I admire are Clare Belfrage, Tom Moore and Llewelyn Ash. But my favourite emerging artist who is also my beloved friend and coworker is Paris-born Laure Fradin. Her work and mine are in the same realm of animation and cuteness (for lack of a better word.) In Laure’s glass, she tells stories of childhood experience and personal nostalgia. There is so much heart in her work, it’s impossible to not make a connection and fall in love. I already have a couple of her pieces, you should go buy one too! Make sure you visit the Generate exhibition this December/January at JamFactory for a display of her incredible work among many others’.

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Frog CakesPhoto Credit: Lara Merrington 

Q: What is your favourite gallery?

A: I’m a sucker for Urban Cow on Frome Street. The South Australian focus is brilliant. Downstairs in the shop, there’s a wide range of mediums by artists from all walks of life, who all reside in this very city! JamFactory also have two great galleries in the city and one at Seppeltsfield. Each year, there’s a show of second year (glass/wood/metal/ceramic) associate work in ‘Generate’ – my most looked-forward-to exhibition each year.

 Q: Where can we find more of your work?

A: Currently, my work is only displayed in the JamFactory retail shop at Morphett Street, but by next year I hope to have a few stockists around Adelaide. In the meantime, I regularly update social media with insights into my products and new projects: emmayoungglass is on Facebook and Instagram. Website coming soon.

Q: If you had to decide on a last meal to eat and movie to watch before you die, what would they be?

A: Oh man, that’s tricky, I’m tempted to say Zambrero… My maternal grandparents are migrants from Malta, and Nanna’s food is so comforting and delicious! Ricotta ravioli, pastizzi (ethnic pasties) and her chicken soup which is a salty tomato broth with celery and rice, are tasty memories from my childhood. I’d have to follow up with dessert: a few handfuls of Haigh’s chocolates! As for the movie, The Lion King or Finding Nemo would be classics with which to finish.

Katerina Grypma

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