“I was introduced to collage at around 4 years old by my Mum. She was a kindergarten teacher and wanted to prepare me for school so she made me a scrapbook full of images cut out of magazines. In black pen and neat teacher writing, she would label the image. This way, I would learn new words.
I began making my own scrapbooks, with images cut from magazines. I would add drawings and words once the bits were all stuck in. I remember that the heavily glued pages made a beautiful crinkly sound as they were turned.
In my teenage years I started collaging again, this time collecting images from magazines like Dolly, Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan: a source of fascination, and later, rage.
After consuming the magazines, with all their dizzying illusions of beauty (and copious advertising), the only way I knew how to get back to the real world in one piece was with a pair of scissors and some glue.
As any collagist knows, the process is everything, and is both addictive and life-affirming.
Hunting for the right printed material (nothing can escape the collagists hungry and twisted gaze), cutting or slicing into old books, National Geographics, and junk mail, and amassing a ‘palette’ of parts, each destined to be re-attached to some other exiled part.
For the ‘More is more’ exhibition, I merged my collage process with the visual language of my paintings. The language is abstract but the collage process still informs my work.
For me, the process of collage is not dissimilar to the process of dreaming, both meaningful and mysterious. We go through our days collecting images through sights, sounds and smells, ‘signs’ which become hitched to feelings. We find ourselves compelled to re-create our world with what we have collected.
Scissors choose like memory, glue is the dream holding the pieces together, the page becomes our mind’s eye. The final work is a collection of all the cacophonous and collected parts in a new and never-before-seen dream.”
Emily Besser is an Australian artist living and working in London.
She has completed First Class Honours in Painting at Sydney College of the Arts in 2001, and has intermittently exhibited her work since then. After a 10 years as a native title and environmental planning lawyer, Emily returned to a daily practice of painting.
Her work is abstract and process-based and she uses collage, drawings and painting to think through her interest in ideas relating to religiosity, spirituality and belief, psychology and anthropology, and the sedentary and domestic arts of gardening and child-rearing.
For a full lisiting of Emily’s work in More is More click here.