Making our way over the ‘Snake Pass’ to Sheffield, we meet contemporary craft artist Emilie Taylor, who occupies a top-floor space in the Yorkshire Artspace studio. We need some time to find the proper entrance, walking past the large graffiti work by Kid Acne, which spells the sentence ‘You’ll thank me later’ over the car park.
This meeting with Emilie Taylor is a prelude to the future plans of Lakeland Art’s engagement strategy, with aspirations to embrace current thinking and museum practice which promotes art as something that can be socially relevant, enhancing our wellbeing and happiness, and even changing lives.
Emilie Taylor’s work embodies these ideas. As a trained art psychotherapist Emilie has worked with people who use drugs and alcohol, with people experiencing metal health problems, and with people who are homeless, collaboratively producing work which is inspired by and engages with their individual stories, personal fates and experiences.
It takes someone approachable and charismatic to do this kind of work, and Emilie is all that. We meet her in her studio, drop our bags on the sofa so we don’t accidentally knock over any of her work which is spread out over windowsills and tables. There is a small set of soup bowls made for Grizedale Arts on the windowsill, and two large pots on the table near the door, which Emilie points out were too heavy for her to lift out of the kiln single-handedly.
Pinned to the wall above are photographs of Verrio’s painted ceiling in Chatsworth house, where she has been artist in residence until a month ago. Emilie is interested in the Renaissance figure grouping, studying and sketching the ceiling as inspiration for her artwork.
The figures currently populating her objects are local youths from the streets, sometimes wearing gilded deer antlers on their heads, for no apparent reason, dressed in hoodies and roaming the streets. Emilie’s work takes her out into those streets, approaching the individuals of the groups she chooses to work with, in their own surroundings, which both fertilises her work and is accommodating for the people she works with, many of which, as Emilie tells us, might not feel comfortable coming into a gallery space.
This blog post has been written by Corinna Leenen, a work placement student from Leicester University.