The latest exhibition from Melbourne artist Emma Coulter is called Shedding Skin, and is appropriate on several levels. Not only does it describe the effect that she creates on the canvas, but it also seems to symbolise what she's trying to achieve on a more personal level. Emma has worked as an interior designer for many years, but has also dedicated much time to her art practice. She has completed studies in both disciplines. However, she has taken a break from her interior design career to focus on her art full-time. Emma is currently exhibiting at Fortyfive Downstairs in Melbourne.
Which five words best describe you? Creative, passionate, perfectionist, driven, honest.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have been painting ever since I can remember. I was lucky; I went to a very supportive high school that encouraged art, design and theatre as equal to science and mathematics. Those formative years are so important for setting the right foundation. I did a fine art degree at QUT in Brisbane immediately after high school, and also took up a second degree in interior design to supplement my arts practice. I took a break from painting for a few years whilst establishing myself as a designer. I was then able to set up a studio for myself to paint whenever I could; enabling me to combine the two disciplines. My first real break came with a solo show in Brisbane in 2005 with Michael Fox. I was selected for a group show on emerging artists, called ‘New Breed’ in Sydney in 2006. I then moved to Melbourne and went on to have 2 successful solo shows at Kick Gallery. All this time, I have also been working pretty seriously as a commercial interior designer on some fairly major projects around Australia, for firms such as Geyer, BVN Architecture and Cox Rayner. I think my pathway of combining the two disciplines has been slightly unusual; however the business acumen and skills that I have gained along the way has been invaluable.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Do what you believe in and work hard at it. The rest will fall into place eventually. Also surround yourself with like-minded people, going against the grain is difficult, but it is easier with the support of others.
What’s your proudest career achievement? My next show; it has been so much hard work, but I know it will be worth it.
What’s been your best decision? To move to Melbourne to pursue my art.
Who inspires you? My family – they are amazing, and I miss them every day when I am in Melbourne.
What are you passionate about? Life; my family and friends; good manners; kind people. Art, fashion, film, design, anything unique. I do love the obscure!
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Louise Bourgeois. An amazing woman.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Completing an art residency in New York and Berlin, and exhibiting overseas.
What are you reading? I am half way through reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s been sitting on my shelf half-read since Christmas. I am not sure what that says about me, but eventually I will get around to reading the other half.
images courtesy of emma coulter