A few months ago I met Emily Hartley-Skudder, a New Zealand artist who collects, photographs and paints found-object miniatures and toys. She's been working on some new pieces this summer and invited me to photograph her Bushwick studio. We talked about her experience in the city so far and what's coming up in her painting practice.
You can meet the artist and see her beautiful paintings tonight in the group show Artifact @ 527 W 29th St, 3rd Floor Studio 200 6-9pm.
B: Hi Emily! It's lovely to see all of these little objects you've collected. Certain toys in specific colors have a powerful significance for me and I'm sure for a lot of people who interact with your work. What is it that compels you to paint them?
E: Quite often I’m drawn to objects for their formal qualities – vibrant colours, their shininess or transparency, how plastic and distorted they are from the real items that they depict. That said, I love the ability of objects to mean so much or so little – it is fantastic how associative they are and what they mean for different people; to appear personalised but at the same time very generic. And miniatures! There is something so enchanting and strange about the ordinary when it is miniaturised. I also enjoy giving a frequent nod to art history – using items that appear throughout the still life tradition or motifs used in particular artists’ work.
B: What brought you to Brooklyn and what were your initial goals for the time you have here?
E: I came for the art, for the challenge and the life experience. I basically had the desire to try to live as an artist in New York and see what happened. I really wanted to connect with other artists, develop my career and take in all there is to see… I undeniably wanted to exhibit my work here too.
B: Has living and working in New York City been any different than you expected it to be?
E: My idea of NYC was definitely a romantic one – spurred on by the second-hand accounts of people that had visited: 'You will LOVE it', 'People go there to follow their dreams…' I hadn’t been to New York before I moved from the little city of Wellington, so there was definitely a lot of adjusting to do, which took longer than anticipated. I’m still adjusting really. I guess I had fanciful ideas of being constantly energised and motivated by the excitement of simply being here – which is of course not always the case. I quite often find it overwhelming and the sheer amount of things to do almost cancels itself out, as you’re always falling short and missing out on something.
B: Have you been inspired by anything new or unusual?
E: Not completely new as such, but the things I have discovered have built upon and intensified ideas. The scale and variety of everything here is so vast, with the potential of finding anything you can imagine. There are things you may have been aware of from pictures or thought would probably exist – and then this is multiplied far beyond what you expect. From your choice of hundreds of chandeliers and water features in Chinatown to the party supplies, toy shops and 99c stores. And I am especially interested in the furniture and kitchen showrooms – the uncanny, artificial ‘domestic’ interiors that I have become increasingly obsessed with are just on a whole new scale here.
Emily Hartley-Skudder is exhibiting in a group show Artifact tonight, Studio 200, 527 W 29th St, 3rd Floor, New York, NY, 6-9pm.
She also has an upcoming joint exhibition with Chris Willcox on November 22nd with No Home gallery, in NoHo, New York.
For more of her paintings, check out here website http://www.emilyhartleyskudder.com.