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New Art 2017: Where I work: Emily Lawrence 

Enter Lawrence’s weird and wonderful world.

click to enlarge DYLAN CHEW
  • DYLAN CHEW

Graduating from NSCAD this April, Emily Lawrence’s grad exhibition at Anna Leonowens Gallery, Hodgepodge, showed colourful soft sculptures creating a dreamscape that you might enter after a particularly indulgent buffet of party food, capped off with Ricola-flavoured cotton candy. A creator of “scrumptious and playful work,” Lawrence’s multi-sensory experiences are funny, fresh and endlessly charming.

WHAT DO YOU DO: One of my biggest influences growing up was food, my dad owned a bakery that I worked at starting when I was 12 years old. I always use this weird analogy to Jell-O: It’s bright and playful and seductive and grotesque, it leaves a residue, it has these jiggly boundaries—all these qualities come into my work. For awhile it was difficult for me to have the confidence to make something I thought was funny, but now I’d never think twice. I used to think maybe because it’s not serious maybe people don’t take it seriously, but then I did a lot of reading about humour and humour theory. A prof once told me, “It’s easy to make people uncomfortable, it’s hard to make them laugh.”

WHERE DO YOU DO IT: Because I’m finishing my degree, I don’t have access to space in NSCAD—my studio had to move into my bachelor apartment. It’s hard because my work is so maximal in a way, I work with lots of big forms and material. It helps me stay motivated because I can’t store things here, the work can only exist in the spaces I create for a short period of time. After a show the pieces go back to the dumpster, which is where most of the materials came from anyway. Some things are hard to get rid of, but my stuff is scrappy and made with garbage, often barely staying together for a show, though in some cases things are better made than others. And what am I going to do with 14 ice cream scoops? Nothing!

WHAT’S NEXT: Right now I’m working on a series of props, accessories and wearables for a photoshoot with One Block Barbershop, I’m also doing the set. I’m applying to residencies as well. I’m always looking for weird opportunities to apply my skill set to—my dream is design a mini-putt golf course or a science centre. A project I want to pursue is printed matter that’s also a scratch and sniff food photograph, I’m looking into getting photos printed with scented inks, even gross ones that are silly. You can even isolate sections—the gravy can be separate from the mashed potatoes. It would be expensive but I’d love to get wallpaper printed in a repeating pattern, covering a gallery’s walls and people could go around and scratch and sniff.

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Vol 24, No 51
May 18, 2017

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