Finding inspiration in nature and her cultural heritage.
An intuitive, self-taught artist from Sydney's Northern Beach's, Emma Rushton's work is an exploration of natural elements, traditional craftsmanship and her Malaysian heritage. Layered into deeply compelling paintings that borrow elements of tapestry and collage.
Emma's art struck me the very first time I saw it. The depth, textures, organic colours and shapes spoke to a quiet longing in my heart for the re-emergence of traditional artistry. Or perhaps a remembrance of our sacred connection to the land that bears our ancestral roots.
I was grateful to interview Emma on her creative inspirations, where she described her recent passion for foraging and turning natural earth pigments into paint, being absorbed by the painting process to freely channel her emotions, along with some favourite sounds and scenes she's currently turning to for inspiration.
1. How has your journey as a self-taught artist unfolded? Is it something you’ve always been pulled towards?
I've always been drawn to art and it's something that I have been passionate about forever. Painting is an outlet that totally absorbs me and acts as a channel to freely express my emotions. It's been such an exciting journey trying to find my groove. Lots of experimenting, picking up different tips from others, and heaps and heaps of trial and error!
2. Your work is described as "combining craft and textiles to produce paintings that are a hybrid between tapestry and collages… with an emphases on texture and layering.” What has been the biggest influence behind your unique style?
I take a lot of inspiration from my immediate surroundings, patterns, shapes, colours, music plants i see in the bush or at the beach, or just out and about in everyday life. Certain aspects of my work are also influenced by my Malaysian heritage. I am captivated by the incredible craftsmanship of traditional crafts like Ikat weaving and Batik. Exploring my heritage is a journey where I find myself continually learning and admiring the artistry behind these beautiful traditions.
3. What does the creation process, from concept to canvas, look like for you?
I wish I could narrow down my typical creation process but it changes from project to project! I absolutely love working in a way that allows for experimentation and trying new techniques. Staying open to intuition keeps things exciting and fresh. I love the buzz of switching between ideas - it keeps me inspired and allows for a lot of spontaneity, which I value heaps when creating art.
4. Natural elements and traditional craftsmanship are a theme across your artwork. With such a rich and endless well to draw inspiration from, are there any new techniques or ideas you’ve discovered that are exciting you right now?
Yes absolutely, whilst on residency in Hydra, Greece i was introduced to foraging and turning natural earth pigments into paint by one of the other artists. This process is something I've been hooked on recently and hoping to explore in greater depth throughout my practice.
5. When are you feeling your most authentic and creative?
When I’m in nature and painting! They’re my go to’s for feeling my most authentic and creative. It's one of my favorite feelings ever, getting totally absorbed in the whole painting process, or by the beautiful natural surroundings.
6. After long hours in the studio, what are some of your favourite rituals to rest and unwind?
I love unwinding with some good music, at the moment Betty Davis’ “Crashin From Passion” and Dire Straits’ “On Every Street” have been on constant repeat! Also cuddling with my dog Haz, doing some yoga, reading a book, or watching an episode of Friends.