Otago Polytechnic

Neil Emmerson describes his Flight exhibition as a retrospective installation that allowed him in to “connect the dots” between his past works.

Flight, which exhibited at the Gallery of Contemporary Australian Art in Perth in April-May 2017, was a collection of selected works over the last 10-12 years. “It was interesting to install works from that period in the same space and see how they worked together,” he says. “The most recent piece was finished just before the exhibition – and there was also work from as far back as 2005 included.”

Neil is an Australian artist and Senior Lecturer in the Dunedin School of Art. His print practice engages with the expanded field of sculpture and installation.

“Initially I was drawn to print simply because you can produce multiples,” he explains. “I was trained in print practice before I started to work in a more interdisciplinary way. I’ve always felt that the term ‘interdisciplinary’ implies that the knowledge from one discipline is transferred and tested when considering other materials and the dialogues attached to other disciplines.”

His work often contains a high degree of actual imagery, and a close association with aspects of news media, including images and stories. “It’s also a highly personalised expression,” he says. “Politics and personal issues collide when matters to do with sexuality are present. I layer – sometimes literally on sheets of paper and at other times within a space – narratives that are both private and public.”

Likewise, his Flight exhibition was both personal and political with a critical focus directed towards aspects of contemporary gay experience. The large exhibition space in Perth provided a challenge for Neil. “It was a particular space, nothing like the square cube that the idea of contemporary gallery might conjure. I had to work with it to make the whole thing coherent and formally tight.”

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CREATIVE & PERFORMING ARTS

September 2017