The Watson is proud to have partnered with Adelaide’s Helpmann Academy to support emerging artists across all creative disciplines and from multiple institutions. Sponsorship of The Watson award as part of the Helpmann Academy’s Graduate Exhibition will allow Art Series Hotel Group to assist Helpmann in their commitment to strengthening South Australia as a centre of excellence in creative education.
Recently sponsoring the Academy’s Graduate Exhibition, young Adelaide artist, Emmaline Zanelli graduate of TAFE SA's Adelaide College of the Arts, received The Watson Award for her abstract photography.
Art Series Hotel Group: Tell us a bit about the work you do and the medium you work in?
Emmaline Zanelli: I’m a 21-year-old emerging artist from Adelaide. I’m curious about human sensations and relationships, how they layer to form and distort our ideas about what is ‘real’. I use an explorative and sculptural approach to photography to investigate this, and my work is layered with both mediums. Human feelings are encoded in objects and processes throughout my images.
ASHG: Where do you get your inspiration from?
EZ: I get a lot of inspiration from the people around me, regardless of how close I may be to them. A lot of my works are responses to people or events that are encoded in images.
My working process is also fuelled by physical play and exploration, and so I get easily inspired to make by playing with materials and equipment — whether it is mouldy fruits or new studio lights.
I get a lot of my inspiration from other artists, from reading magazines such as Foam, GUP and also online publications. Seeing what other people are exploring drives me to keep moving in my own practice, to keep exploring.
STAY HUNGRY … and never sacrifice honesty for relatability.
ASHG: What does winning this award mean to you?
EZ: Winning The Watson award is an incredible encouragement! Firstly, it means I will be able to get the equipment I need to develop my work both technically and conceptually, and I’m really very grateful for that. It’s also so encouraging to be commended for a body of work that I found challenging in a few different ways, and it’s motivated me to continue to be explorative and experimental in my practice.
Image: Flesh House (you hide between my thighs) (2015) by Emmaline Zanelli
ASHG: Who are your favourite artists?
EZ: Lucas Blalock, Rachel de Joode, and Kate Steciw are some photographers I really enjoy because their work is explorative and they use combinations of sculpture, digital media and photography. I am always curious about new image-making techniques and how these artists use photography as both a tool and a subject.
I have also always loved the drawing and painting work of James Jean. His skill is incredible and his immersion in his practice is inspiring. His surreal world is a place I’d want to go.
ASHG: What is your favourite medium to work in?
EZ: Presenting work as photography can be a super free way to work — sculptures, installations and interactions that can’t be expressed as I need them to be (because they are too transient, too large, not stable, site specific, gallery wouldn’t allow melons to be smashed on floor, etc) can be shared effectively through images and so currently it’s my preferred medium. But I work best with my hands. I feel most that I am actually making work when I am physically engaging with materials — getting slimed up from arranging fish, fruit and spam for still life sculptures or wearing my photographs as clothes in the park at night in a kind of private performance — that is where the work feels at its most "real". I am increasingly interested in the sculptural side of my practice.
ASHG: What are your plans for the next 12 months?
EZ: I have just finished up with two exhibitions for the 2016 Adelaide Fringe. I co-curated a group photography exhibition at the Light Square gallery called Single Use, and also did a large scale durational installation called Dune at Glitch Experimental Art Space where I brought two tonnes of sand into the upstairs gallery and spent eight hours drawing with the sand per day for seven consecutive days.
I will be having a solo exhibition in early 2017 at the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (CACSA) Project Space. So I will spend much of the next 12 months developing my work for that project.
Image: Smashed Venus (2015) by Emmaline Zanelli
ASHG: Are you able to name three artists you’d like to be compared with?
EZ: At some stage in my career I would like to be compared with artists such as Manon Wertenbroek and Rachel de Joode, artists who experiment with the physical qualities of images making work that is layered, alluring and slightly confusing
ASHG: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
EZ: STAY HUNGRY.
… and never sacrifice honesty for relatability.
ASHG: When you’re not practicing your art, what would we find you doing?
EZ: You would have a pretty good chance of finding me either practicing or studying yoga, at home with my baby bearded dragon, Mary, or out hiking and climbing at night.
Emmaline standing in front of her three artworks.
Hero image: Hypersensitive (2015) by Emmaline Zanelli
Emmaline's artwork is now on display in the lobby of The Watson.