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Emma Louise Pratt

Emma Louise Pratt 2016 A presentation of projects, work and reflections on her arts practice. Content Project: La Riada | The Flood: Artists in Schools Project Article: Integrating a life, language, culture and family into a rich arts practice Biography, Presentations, Projects and Exhibitions

La Riada | The Flood Artists in Schools Project with Colegio Beaterio de la Santisima Trinidad. Sevilla, 4-8 April 2016 Detail La Riada | The Flood Mixed media on linen 110cm x- 140cm

On the 25th November 1961, the Tamarguillo river broke its banks and flooded Seville with four million cubic metres of water in what was the worst flood the city had ever suffered. In this project, students of 4ยบESO* (15 year olds) investigated the story of this flood in their city, collected oral histories and shared what they found. During the mornings, after an initial chat with me, students worked in small groups to research and bring together information about an aspect of the flood and its wider context. Just before lunch we came together to see what had happened during the day. The final day was for presentations. It was the first time that these students had worked on a project in English or seen an artist at work. The students worked in groups to research and report about different aspects of the flood, including interviewing people who remembered it. They made videos and we uploaded them. The students then made subtitles with my help. Some had more help than others as you can see in the translations! The great thing is, they learnt how to do it. Everything about this project, from my point of view, was about stimulating interest and building confidence around working together in English and using different mediums of communication. Meanwhile I began the preliminary sketches that built towards this final work.

Detail La Riada | The Flood Mixed media on linen 110cm x- 140cm

Detail La Riada | The Flood Mixed media on linen 110cm x- 140cm

Detail La Riada | The Flood Mixed media on linen 110cm x- 140cm

Detail La Riada | The Flood Mixed media on linen 110cm x- 140cm

La Riada | The Flood Mixed media on linen 110cm x- 140cm

Clara with our joint work: The Elephant that holds up the world Mixed media on canvas 110cm x- 140cm approx

Integrating a life, language, culture and family into a rich arts practice. The Big O.E. (Overseas Experience) In 1998, two flamenco friends were heading to Seville to live a while and attend classes with local Flamenco teachers. I was hankering to travel and see what was happening outside of what had been until then, my entirely provincial life. This was the most romantic idea I could think of. I got excited, sold my Vespa and everything else I could think of, bought my ticket, and was soon heading to Spain to join them. I had their address and the "ok" to crash on their floor. I spoke no Spanish and I had no idea what I was going to do when I got there. Off I went with a backpack, my pounamu (New Zealand Jade) and a whole lot of ignorance. Years later, after many turns about, it's 2012 and I'm standing near the north tower of the Plaza de EspaĂąa in Seville. There is a row of women sitting with their hair pulled up and adorned with roses and combs. Tassels fall from the scooping neck lines of their figure hugging dresses and shawls are draped over their shoulders. One has castanets and the others are singing as two young men play their cajĂłn or acoustic box and another plays the guitar. They accompany the singers with the rhythm of the Sevillanas.Taa ta-ta taa, ta-ka-taa, ta-ka-taa-ta.

Around the musicians and singers there is a crowd of people, chatting or dancing. Women come together and kiss each other's cheeks in greeting. They complement each other on their trajes de gitana or gipsy dresses, the traditional regional costume of Andalusia worn especially and only for the weeklong Feria de Abril, or April Fair.

The Local

The dress is an elaborate affair that reflects subtle fashion changes every year - sleeves come and go, the size of the frills and combinations of fabrics change. Presently the dress is worn hugging the body to the knees where it flares out in a fishtail of frills and the old handcrafts - lace, crochet, knotting and tassel work are making a come-back. I personally wear mine a little looser about the knees, she's a darn difficult dress to wriggle out of in a hurry, and don't try to bend down and pick up a kid.

It's now 2016, eleven years since Javier and I moved back to Spain from New Zealand. I left behind my networks, my good friends, family and many opportunities. I gave it up in order to try something much harder. I was an optimist. I had the idea that being an artist meant that who I am and what I do would travel effortlessly with me. I'd be fine. There was a whole other world with languages, both visual and spoken to explore.

The city hums, the sun is shining and orange blossoms scent the air. Horses pull carriages of people to the fair. Others line up to catch buses. People promenade near the Cathedral and you will never see two dresses the same in the whole city. Among the dancers in the Plaza de EspaĂąa, there is an almostfour-year-old in her bubble gum pink polka dot traje de gitana. Her hair is a little bedraggled, her cheeks hot, her pink flower perched askew on her head and she has one sock up, the other down. She is sitting on the floor of the plaza. It's time to take this little Flamenca home. My second daughter is in the arms of her father, eyes wide as saucers as she follows the dancing, moving her wrists and hands in circles trying to imitate the dancers.

Scenes like this are what tourists come to Seville for. After so many years, I'm a seasoned participant. People even stop me and ask if they can photograph me in my traje de gitana. I smile and answer in Spanish "ÂĄClaro que si! " Sure thing!

So, do you like living here? Locals often ask me about how I get on living in Seville. The classic conversation unfolds like this: "Do you like it here?" Says the local. I hate that question because you are naturally obliged, as the immigrant, to say "Yes!" because you don't want to offend. "I mean, [insert location here] is one of the best places in the world to live! What's not to like?" says the local. It's hard for the "real local", unless they're put a few years in abroad themselves, to understand the feeling of being an immigrant, the feeling of living in a place where there is an almost daily mis-fit - something that reminds you that you're not from the place where you reside.

Language is the most frequent reminder. I'm lucky to have reached a sufficient level to manage daily life without trouble now. It's taken time. At the edges of this host community where I live, my sense of belonging ebbs and flows like a tide. Sometimes I feel almost fully integrated, other days like a complete outsider.

Learning a new language Not fully understanding a language limits how you can function in a community. I've noticed over the years how you can become so scarily accustomed to the loss of full linguistic control, you stop noticing it. I call it defaulting into the state of disconnect. I came across that word disconnect recently when it was applied to me as having lived outside New Zealand so long I no longer had a community in New Zealand that could connect to me. That burned. But these are the costs of moving outside a comfort zone, as all migrants choose or are forced to do. Even after all these years, and with a good command of the language, I still cannot function at the level of my native tongue in terms of wit and quickness, nuance and shades of meaning. The verbose and eloquent person that I might be at the dinner table in my own native language has become a less talkative one, well-practiced at nodding, ohhing and ahhing in agreement. I so deftly cover up the fact that I haven't actually understood 100% of the conversation, I hardly notice. My skill at filling in the gaps with soft gauze is refined, just as an illiterate person becomes skilled at hiding their inability to read.

As for me, this loss of complete control in communication is the best thing that could have happened. I would put it among the greatest lessons in humility I've learned. The fruits of it have been patience, empathy and the enrichment of another language, which now forms part of who I am and who my children are.

New language, new ways of seeing, new ways of making art My practice as a painter is richer for it. For some years, I struggled with identity and place and wanted to hang on to New Zealand for dear life. But later, I began to see that I was gaining a wider vocabulary to draw on. I now have Andalusian views, smells and sounds, symbols and cultural references that form part of the landscape of my identity.

As for me, this loss of complete control in communication is the best thing that could have happened. I would put it among the greatest lessons in humility I've learned.

I appreciate the effort anyone makes to communicate through anything but their mother tongue. My Great-Great Grandfather learnt his lessons in French. He would have spoken his indigenous Jèrriais language in everyday life on the island of Jersey. He also studied German, and was at home reading Hebrew and Ancient Greek. English became his main language as an economic migrant. The last language that he acquired in his rich life and became extremely proficient in, was Te Reo the indigenous Mäori language, together with its dialects, in Aotearoa New Zealand I'm proud of that heritage and hope to carry many more languages, histories and landscapes throughout my life. Blanca and me with our joint work: The Elephant that holds up the world Mixed media on canvas 110cm x- 140cm approx

Being an artist and a mother Becoming a mother and raising my two children in a different culture, while still trying to develop my arts practice, turned what I first saw as disadvantages into what has become for me a fulfilling arts practice. If you look carefully at a lot of my artwork over the last few years, you'll see lots of evidence of the interventions and disruptions of small hands. Scribbles, odd colour combos, blobs and rough painting blend into the overall image I finally arrive at. Not having time for my artmaking was affecting my mental health. I needed to be able to engage with my artmaking more than just a few stolen hours on a Sunday at my small studio now and then. So, I rethought the studio space and how I worked. I moved artmaking into the domestic context. Involving my children in art making became necessary to be able to continue to make work at all. There were sacrifices. It meant less space, and less concentration. Thought and time became broken and disrupted. I chose to accept that reality and make it a positive part of my art making.

I now work on the floor, in a tiny space at home, with waterbased products. I have various things on the go that I pick up and put down throughout the week, in stolen moments, or in late night scribblings, or with the girls in active all-hands-on time. Having the girls attack my work was at first scary, they would paint over my drawing with random marks. It still is a challenge. Each time I let them get involved, I surrender control. Allowing this has helped me arrive at new departures, see spaces in a new way and my daughters' painterly disruptions contribute positively to the development of an image. Above all, we enjoy doing it together. As a friend reminded me, "Emma, it's all about the kaupapa [Maaori word for agenda/ motivating force]" - the motivation that underlies and drives what you do. My art is about my life, so I embrace it and let it in.

The Elephant that holds up the world Mixed media on canvas 110cm x- 140cm approx

The Dis-connect Mixed media on 92cm x 73cm linen

Emma Louise Pratt

b. 1972, Taihape, Aotearoa New Zealand Emma Louise Pratt studied at Ilam School of Fine Art, Canterbury University, New Zealand. She has been the runner up in the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award (2005), and a finalist in the Norsewear Award (2007) in New Zealand and finalist in the Focus Abengoa International Painting Prize, Spain (2014). Emma is known for her landscape based work where she explores specific landscapes that convey significance to her either for their historical or personal importance, serving as they always have, as a personal travel map. Emma views herself as part of "the wandering folk." Descendant of migrants, and a migrant herself, she always finds herself in the position of the visitor, the outsider, the other. She explores in her work the multifaceted tensions and shifting borders of what identity is in a global present. This reflection is also informed by her training in museology and love of history, both geological and human.

She is fascinated by her own children's identity as both children of a foreignmother and local father, living, as they presently do, where their ancestors have lived for thousands of years, a state of belonging that she admits to wishing for herself.

With this knowledge and quiet observation of everyday life around her, she interweaves her stories and stories of the land where she lives. Her children often collaborate in the making of the images she finally arrives at. Echoes of their drawing and mark making, either free of directed, can be seen in her work. Emma is involved with the Visual Arts Circle, a group of language teaching practitioners with an interest in multimodal literacy and explores the concept of being an artist educator.

Emma has exhibited through Whitespace in Auckland, New Zealand since 2005. She began exhibiting her work in TJFA in Palmerston North in 2001. Her 2005 work "The Stations of the Cross" can be found in Saint Andrews in the City, in her home town of Palmerston North, New Zealand

Reflecting a Multi-Faceted Arts Practice: Solo and Group Exhibitions, Presentations, Artists in Schools Projects, Talks and Performance December 2016: Cinco AĂąos Group Show at Wabi Sabi Gallery, Seville, Spain November 29 2016: Paintings December 2016: Paintings. Whitespace Gallery, Auckland New Zealand October 2016: The Image Conference: Talk: Artists in Schools for Language Learning Malta May 2016: Colegio Beaterio de la Santisima Trinidad: Artists in Schools for Language Learning Project Seville, Spain November 2015: Group Show Arusha Gallery at the Edinburgh Art Fair, Edinburgh, UK October 2015: Innovate ELT Conference: Talk: Building Commmunity for Teacher Development Barcelona, Spain May 2015: Group Show Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

April 2015: Nada en ComĂşn Group Show at Wabi Sabi Gallery, Seville, Spain October 2014: Learning Technology SIG: Talk: Reflections on Building an Online Course and Social Learning Dublin, Ireland May 2014: Postcards from the Garden of the Moorish King Whitespace Gallery, Auckland New Zealand August 2013: Witness Whitespace Gallery, Auckland New Zealand August 2012: Irene Ferguson and Emma Pratt: Witness Hastings City Art Gallery New Zealand August 2010: Look up Kathie Visual Work and Monologue Whitespace Gallery, Auckland New Zealand August 2008: 40 Day Visual Work, Video, Audio and Spoken Works GNS Science, Lower Hutt Whitespace Gallery, Auckland New Zealand November 2007 -present: Christmas Group Shows Whitespace Gallery Auckland, New Zealand

October, November 2007: Work from the Sanlucar Residency: Whakariuka nga Manu Inquietas son las Aves New Works Solo Exhibition The British Institute, Seville and Tartaneros4, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain

October 2004: The Desert Road Martinborough Gallery for Contemporary Art Martinborough, New Zealand 2003: Objects found on Shelves and Tables McCormack Studio Gallery Wellington, New Zealand

September 2007: The Island Dweller New Works Whitespace Gallery Auckland, New Zealand

2003: Interior Taylor Jensen Gallery Palmerston North, New Zealand

August 2007: TJFA Celebrating 10 Years Group Show Taylor Jensen Gallery Palmerston North, New Zealand

2002: Home Land Taylor Jensen Gallery Palmerston North, New Zealand

May 2007: Group Show Peter Rae Gallery Dunedin, New Zealand

2001: Tres Mujeres en el Ateneo Group show Ateneo Seville, Spain

August 2006: Elvis is a Go Man Whitespace Gallery Auckland, New Zealand

1995: Time Marking Community Arts Centre Hastings, New Zealand

October 2005: Ki a Te Popi Whitespace Gallery Auckland, New Zealand August 2005: Journey to the Mountain Taylor Jensen Gallery Palmerston North, New Zealand March 2005: Stations of the Cross St Andrews Presbyterian Church Palmerston North, New Zealand

Profile for Emma Louise Pratt

Emma Louise Pratt: Work 2016  

A presentation of projects and work in 2016 and an article reflecting on her arts practice to date.

Emma Louise Pratt: Work 2016  

A presentation of projects and work in 2016 and an article reflecting on her arts practice to date.


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