“Sensuous, honest and palpable”
I’m not sure there are words to describe the elegant, mystical, romantic works of Emily Ponsonby @emilyponsonbyart
Often depicting the female form in nude, the work highlights a natural purity, an effervescing feeling of freedom and acceptance. They are an awakening.
The bees wax, based on the Ancient Egyptians Encaustic process, mixed media adds another dimension to the works, celebrating the contours of the subjects and of nature.
“The magnificence of the natural world and how soothing submerging oneself in it is, never ceases to inspire me. Every sense is awakened as you dive through open water or let soil fall through your fingers… this physicality continues with my handling of paint. Gouging, scraping and rubbing into the surface of the painting to reveal the figures within.”
Where are you now EMILY?
LET’S START WITH… What 3 words would you use to describe your artwork?
Sensuous, honest and palpable
TELL ME EMILY, What was your earliest memory surrounding art?
Spending days creating crumbling sculptures out of mud on the farm
AWH BEAUTIFUL. SO Tell us about your process? How does each work come to fruition? Do you plan? Or are your paintings fluid in creation?
The series I’m currently working on explores the remedial qualities of swimming in cold water. Every morning I have a shower or bath and feel the water flowing over my body. I then read the articles, newspaper clippings and poems that I’ve gathered until my mind is full and my limbs feel almost as if I’m suspended in the water itself. Then I start to paint.
Your work is so natural and organic. What do you hope that your work says to the viewer?
The dream is that a painting will transport the mind to barefooted, free spirited and joyful moments spent outside, reconnecting with the earth and feeling alive.
Tell us about your media? As well as paint your technique involves oil and beeswax. Tell us a bit about how you use these?
I use beeswax firstly because it forces me to loosen up and to not be precious as layers of paint are trapped between the molten wax, secondly, because I enjoy the physical process of carving into the layers to pull the figures out from the surface and thirdly because I love that the Egyptian Fayum Portraits are some of the oldest still surviving today, preserved beautifully in the pyramids.
"The magnificence of the natural world and how soothing submerging oneself in it is, never ceases to inspire me."
What is your studio like? What are your perfect conditions to paint?
Painful studio rent and London living has for years dictated my studio space. The last 4 months have seen a big change. I now relish in the space, stillness and solitude of the countryside. My life, my thoughts and my work are now plaited together.
What is your biggest influence? Where does your influence come from and how do you feel it comes out in your work?
The magnificence of the natural world and how soothing submerging oneself in it is, never ceases to inspire me. Every sense is awakened as you dive through open water or let soil fall through your fingers… this physicality continues with my handling of paint. Gouging, scraping and rubbing into the surface of the painting to reveal the figures within.
If you could own one piece of artwork in the world, as if money or likelihood was no issue, what would it be and why?
‘Combing The Hair’ by Degas.
Standing in front of this painting and seeing a cool damson pink vibrating against a sea of post-box red never fails to shake up my thoughts surrounding the painting I’m currently working on. It’s playful textures and brushstrokes, the composition of the figures and the colours are completely mesmerizing.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
My self-appointed residency in Cape Town 2 years ago. After months of experimenting, thinking and processing an internal switch was flicked. Everything suddenly made sense.
What would be your dream project?
To continue working with amazing women, helping them to see their bodies through the eyes of an artist. To see them for the beauty in their existence with every breath they inhale.
Favourite historical female artist?
Gwen John or Helen Schjerfbeck
Favourite current practicing female artist?
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