Bruno Booth interview with Emma Lashmar

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE INTERVIEW SERIES

In the lead up to our Open Studio Night on Tuesday 10th October our resident artists caught up to find out a little more about each other and talk artistic practice and influences. 

EL2 fold-field, Monash 2009

Bruno Booth: So, Emma, can you tell me a little about how your personal history shapes your practice?

Emma Lashmar: My story begins in Perth, and the contrast between suburban sprawl and the rural regions beyond has always played a role in my work. Here we’re poised between desert and ocean, and the sense of isolation is as particular to this place as the light. I grew up with the regular rhythm of school in the city, and holidays in the forests and coastline of the South West. My dad was a sheep farmer turned abalone diver, and so these threads of primary industry and reliance on the land and sea for sustenance have remained vital. I suppose there’s still a part of my practice that’s just a kid sitting in the sand, mucking about with collected flotsam and jetsam. It’s a good place to begin. So with this realisation that materiality is a strong motivator for me, and having discovered a kindling passion for hot glass through visual arts studies at Curtin, I transferred over to Monash University’s glass major program in 2003. That shift was seismic, but Melbourne quickly became home. It’s still somewhat strange to be back in the west for more than a summer holiday!

EL: I could ask you a similar question, Bruno…what’s the origin story of your art-making?

BB: I guess it began with my father and grandfather both being engineers…they were always building things and tinkering with machinery. Watching them work, and helping them with their projects, sort of imbued in me a passion to build things. However, my dad always told me to work with my head, not my hands so I tried that and went to uni. I studied a variety of sciences mainly ecological and environmental and I was into learning about all these crazy systems and how a change in one part changes everything else. However, I wasn’t really happy or particularly good at being a scientist so after a few years I quit and sort of drifted. I played a lot of music and got into that whole scene in Freo and had a great time without really having too much to show for it. After a bit of travelling I came back to Perth and studied Graphic Design at TAFE as I’d always loved drawing but never had any training after high school. The course was really good and I learned a lot of techniques that I employ in my practice but I discovered that I didn’t want to work sitting behind a computer all day (thanks Dad). So I started painting. I painted a bunch of murals around the city, did a few group shows and haven’t looked back and that was about four years ago. In fact it’s only in the last year that I’ve really considered myself an artist and started to focus on developing ideas that will be able to sustain a practice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

BB: I’ve spent a little bit of time in your studio and I’ve noticed that you employ what seems to me to be almost opposing materials can you tell me a bit about that?

EL: Hot glass has this mesmerising quality, and the process of handling it is as much about the embodied awareness of the maker in process as it is about the design and execution of technique. It requires a physicality akin to performance, as shaping this molten material is all about timing, balance, centring and control. There are so many metaphorical balls to keep in the air, that there’s little time for conscious thought…it requires you to tap into body memory, and work intuitively. Because it is so highly technical, it’s hard to reach and then maintain proficiency without regular practice. So when I do manage to get time in a glass studio, I prefer to play at testing the limits of the material and be content with the imperfections. I don’t need these forms to be flawless, the unintentional marks preserved in the skin of the glass vessel speak to the process of making as a conversation between material and maker… an event in time. I enjoy the aesthetic quirks of the handmade, despite also being compelled to make large groupings of multiples in my work. But for this project, glass could only play a small role. I needed a medium that spoke to more primitive human need. Before the functional vessel emerged, people sought the warmth and protection that clothing and shelter provides. Felt speaks to the fulfilment of these most basic requirements, allowing space and time for higher human consciousness to develop.

EL: Materially speaking, your practice is predominantly painting based, but I’m interested to hear more about the construction of your uniquely shaped canvases. How does craftsmanship play a role in your work?

BB: I think because I’m building the supports for my paintings and the shapes are irregular that craftsmanship does play a role. I try and make sure that the wood I’m using is solid, my tools are sharp and I’ve got everything I need to hand. This allows me to be a bit more spontaneous with the design of the frame. Most of my paintings are loosely planned out on the computer. I then use this image as a reference and draw the shape free hand onto the wood. I then cut out the shape with a jig saw or router, cut out a copy and then glue and clamp these together with a cavity
in-between. Next I trace around the shape onto some canvas, cut out and stretch (with a lot of patience) over the frame.

EL10 formations-strata, FreedmanFoundation 2014

EL: I feel like another way in which our projects overlap is a desire to delve further into subjective human experiences that are often disregarded on the whole. Can you tell me more about what you’ve unearthed in your current research?

BB: Firstly, up until PICA I’ve tried to keep a distance between certain parts of my life and my art practice. Namely, I didn’t want to capitalise on my disability in order to gain recognition for my work. I know that seems like a weird thing to say but I was always scared of being seen asking for help or asking for hand outs. But now I’ve come to a point where I feel I have more to say than can be expressed simply through nice aesthetics and some flashy finishes. My project has a working title of “Don’t know where to look” and I think it’s about two things. Firstly I’m researching the idea that people who identify as disabled or who are identified by society as disabled are denied this sort of personhood which can only be achieved as a function of their economic productivity. The second idea has to do with the way disabilities are still a taboo subject despite the fact that Australia, like most countries in the West, has an ageing population, an ever growing gap between rich and poor and a society with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. All of which will lead to an explosion in the number of people classed as disabled in the next 50 years. What I’m grappling with now is how best to represent my research. I’m not a scientist (any more) so I don’t want to be meticulous and literal but at the same time I don’t want to be to esoteric and let the work drift away from the theme.

BB: It was great when you talked me through the felting process the other day and learning about your history with hot glass but we didn’t really touch on your motivations, can you tell me a bit about your ideas behind the work?

EL: The installation work I’m developing was dredged from my subconscious in this kind of psychological purgatory of my daughter’s infancy. At that time, it felt like my critical and conceptual faculties evaporated in a haze of sleep deprivation and hormonal shifts. Like a convalescent recovering from a tropical illness, I found my sense of self slipping through my fingers. It’s not the universal experience of new motherhood, but it was mine. It took all my resources of energy and faculty just to function. But it turns out that this fairly dramatic shift in perspective clarified some questions I’m keen to explore further now that I’ve reconnected with my arts practice. My current research is questioning the ways in which we each develop a personal ethics of care and responsibility to others, to self, to our surroundings. Family life is a delicate balance, both an ecosystem and an economy of sorts, and often just fulfilling the most basic human needs of all parties is a challenge. Food, sleep, hygiene, shelter and communication requirements shape each day, and time passes strangely, without anything discernibly productive getting done. Ultimately through this work I hope to continue evolving the conversation about the ethics of care. I suppose I’m not convinced that our output-oriented society grants enough importance to these roles, or enough respect for the presence and agency we each have in the lives of those around us.

Join the artists for our Open Studio Night to hear more about their practices!

Facebook event

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Latest News

  • The City as Ghost: Insight into 歸屬 Gui Shu (Belong)

    by Jonathan W. Marshall

  • Q&A WITH NOEMIE HUTTNER-KOROS

    9 July – 29 September

  • Q&A WITH LAYLI RAKHSHA

    9 July – 29 September

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Winter Exhibitions

    27 July - 6 October

  • Q&A with Annie & Matthias

    Sheets of Sound composers

  • CO-INTERVIEW | Stephanie De Biasi & William Kitely

    Hatched 2019 artists

  • KISS CLUB ARTIST CALL OUT

  • Q&A WITH DENNIS GOLDING

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Hatched 2019

    4 May - 7 July

  • ‘Still Here’

    Artists Lab

  • Q&A WITH ARIELLE GRAY

    Performer & Co-creator of Lé Nør [the rain]

  • Farewell to Senior Curator Eugenio Viola

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Fringe Program

    18 - 25 January

  • Q&A with Eugene Ughetti

    GET TO KNOW THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF SPEAK PERCUSSION

  • Q&A with Mish Grigor

    GET TO KNOW THE CREATOR OF THE TALK 

  • Insight into Confusion for Three

    by Jonathan W. Marshall | 26 November, 2018

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Confusion for Three

    15 - 17 November

  • MEDIA RELEASE | A Self Portrait by Khaled Sabsabi

    4 August - 7 October

  • MEDIA RELEASE | please open hurry by Amalia Pica

    4 August - 7 October

  • MEDIA RELEASE | PICA’s Upcoming Program

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Hatched: National Graduate Show 2018

    19 May – 15 July

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Zone of Nowhere by Kimsooja

    17 February – 29 April

  • Burrbgaja Yalirra – Triple Bill

    7 – 16 June 2018

  • Volunteer at PICA during FRINGE WORLD Festival 2018

    27 January – 17 February 2018

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Remedial Works

    11 November – 24 December

  • MEDIA RELEASE | I don’t want to be there when it happens

    11 November – 24 December

  • Bruno Booth interview with Emma Lashmar

    ARTIST IN RESIDENCE INTERVIEW SERIES

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Aeon

    26 - 29 October 2017

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Energies: Haines & Hinterding

    2 September - 29 October

  • MEDIA RELEASE | When the Sky Fell: Legacies of the 1967 Referendum

    2 July - 20 August

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Show & Tell and Body Not Fit for Purpose

    Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion | 28 – 29 April, 7:30pm

  • CO-INTERVIEW | DANIELLE REYNOLDS & JENN GARLAND

    ARTIST IN RESIDENCE INTERVIEW SERIES

  • Hatched 2017 Emerging Curator Announcement

    PICA Welcomes Emerging Guest Curator Olivia Nichols

  • MEDIA RELEASE | Never Tilt Your Chair Back on Two Legs

    10 - 11 April 2017

  • HATCHED 2017 ARTISTS ANNOUNCED

    Feb 1 2017

  • PICA APPOINTS NEW SENIOR CURATOR 

    PICA is pleased to announce the appointment of Eugenio Viola to the position of Senior Curator.

  • Director Amy Barrett-Lennard talks in new podcast series

    'A Room Of One's Own' on RTR FM

  • Curator Forum | Midriffs, Medusa and Other M-Words

    Andrew Varano, 2016

  • Curator Forum | I’ve got a cavern of secrets, none of them are for you.

    Gemma Weston, 2016

  • Curator Forum | Text for Speaking on 20 October, 2016, at PICA

    Robert Cook, 2016

  • Amy Perejuan-Capone Interviews Melanie Jayne Taylor

    ARTIST IN RESIDENCE INTERVIEW SERIES

  • Melanie Jayne Taylor interviews The Welcome Collective

    ARTIST IN RESIDENCE INTERVIEW SERIES

  • The Welcome Collective Interview Amy Perejuan-Capone

    ARTIST IN RESIDENCE INTERVIEW SERIES

  • Blogpost: Mei Saraswati

    Radical Ecologies

  • 2017 ARTISTIC PROPOSAL CALLOUT

    PICA is now seeking expressions of interest for its 2017 program.

  • Volunteer Call Out

    Hatched + Radical Ecologies

  • Schenberg Art Fellowship Winner 2016

    16 May, 2016

  • Warnbro Community High School – Projector Bike

    4 May, 2016

  • CALL-OUT: Communications Intern

    4 May, 2016

  • The Secret Garden x NLNL Playlist Online Now

    15 April, 2016

  • Through the Working Glass Professional Learning Workshop

    5 April, 2016

  • Q & A with Studio Artist Shaun Prior

    1 April, 2016

  • Q & A with Tristan Fidler

    1 April, 2016

  • Get lost in The Secret Garden

    23 March, 2016

  • Female artists lead Hatched 2016

    9 March, 2016

  • Derek Kreckler: Accident & Process begins Australia-wide tour in Bunbury

    3 March, 2016

  • Insight into Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster by Jonathan Marshall

    17 February, 2016

  • Thoughts on Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster by Helena Grehan

    17 February, 2016

  • Keep up to date with PICA’s latest news and win a prize pack!

    17 February, 2016

  • Q & A with Ahilan Ratnamohan

    12 February, 2016

  • Artist/Producer Hans Berg to perform at The Secret Garden Opening

    10 February, 2016

  • Q & A with Nicola Gunn

    Thursday 4 February, 2016

  • Q & A with Ian Sinclair

    2 February, 2016

  • PICA Guide Jan – July Out Now

    2 February, 2016

  • Call for applications for Senior Curator position

    1 February, 2016

  • SPARK_LAB PARTNER SCHOOL TO PERFORM AS A CURTAIN RAISER FOR ‘DRILL’

    27 January, 2016

  • Q&A with Kathryn Osborne, director of The Crossing

    18 January, 2016

  • Q&A with MKA: Being Dead (Don Quixote) star Kerith Manderson-Galvin

    15 January, 2016

  • Welcome to Summer at PICA!

    13 January, 2016

  • Curator Leigh Robb leaving PICA

    6 January, 2016

  • CALL-OUT: Front of House Manager Wanted

    5 January, 2015

  • Happy Holidays from PICA!

    17 December, 2015

  • Hatched Artist Derek Sargent Receives 2016 Samstag Scholarship

    14 December, 2015

  • Fringe Announcements & End of Year PICA Events!

    11 December 2015

  • PICA Awarded Lead Organisation Status by State Government

    10 December, 2015

  • There’s stacks to do this month at PICA!

    2 December 2015

  • CALL-OUT: Performers wanted for pvi collective’s ‘blackmarket’

    26 November, 2015

  • CALL-OUT: Exhibitions Intern

    26 November 2015

  • Black Friday Chills & Thrills

    11 November 2015

  • Experimental Turntablist Confirmed for Dead Ringer Opening

    9 November 2015

  • COMPETITION: Do You have a ‘Dead Ringer’?

    9 November 2015

  • New shows, new music and new staff!

    29 October 2015

  • New Era of Performance at PICA

    27 October 2015

  • New performances & School Holiday Fun @ PICA

    30 September 2015

  • Upcoming shows, a new catalogue & opening night pics!

    16 September 2015

  • Exhibitions now open, new studio residents + more!

    2 September 2015

  • New shows: Derek Kreckler, Consuelo Cavignalia & Decibel

    20 August 2015

  • Volunteer Call-out: Ushers Needed

    19 August 2015

  • August – December PICA Guide | Out Now

    4 August 2015

  • Epic Narratives Last Weekend!

    14 August 2015

  • E-news 22 July

    22 July 2015

  • PICA Salon success & more!

    10 July 2015

  • Two Places, One Space: PICA & Warnbro Community High Join Forces!

    22 May 2015

  • PICAnauts Swim for Art!

    13 February 2015

  • Exhibition Openings, Summer Nights Continues & Support our PICAnauts!

    10 February 2015