Emma Roche

Favourite woman artist and why/how has she/her art or life inspired you? 


There are so many…. Amy Sillman, Lynda Benglis, Alice Neel, Marlene Dumas all for different reasons. The last few weeks I’ve been into Hannah Wilke’s gum photographs. Dumas and Sillman’s writing as well as their work.


Women globally are far less represented in galleries and museums than their male counterparts. Have you yourself found the art world difficult to navigate as a woman or have you come up against any particular obstacles and how did you deal with them? Do you support all-women shows etc..? Why/why not? 


I think it’s difficult for all artists, men and women – I don’t think anyone would say they find the art world easy to navigate. In terms of all women’s shows – I support them in that I was in one last year - a show called ‘Women Can’t Paint’ at TurpsGallery which took its title from Georg Baselitz’s interviews in der Spiegel and the Guardian (2013 and 2015). I really enjoyed being part of that and it was a gorgeous show.


I do think all-women shows can be problematic though, for a few reasons, mostly because often they seem to be added to a gallery’s programme as a kind of box-ticking. Last summer in Dublin there were quite a few all women shows but summer is graveyard territory and once autumn came the same galleries were putting on male solo shows back to back. Some galleries are also representing a larger percentage of male artists but that’s the same all over the world. There are exceptions but statistically that’s still the way it is, unsurprisingly.



When did you first discover art? and when did you realise that you wanted to pursue it professionally?


Probably first year in secondary school. I was lucky that the art department at school was really supportive and going to art college was taken seriously and presented as a real option.



Can you tell me a bit about you/your background? (egwhere are you from/based? What has your educational path been like or are you self-taught?)


I’m based just outside Gorey in Wexford, Ireland. I did my BA at NCAD in Dublin, MA at IADT, Dublin and recently the TurpsBanana Correspondence Course.



What themes or ideas do you explore in your practice? 


Everydayness, materiality, abstraction, figuration, bad painting, irreverence, pattern, formal systems, authority, figure heads, bosses…..

What is your process like? (Do you do a lot of research? Do you favour an intuitive approach? Do you do a lot of preparatory studies? Do you use photography/digital media? Do you concentrate on just one piece or do you work on several at the same time? How long do you spend working on each piece?)


It depends on what I’m working on. I have a large piece that I’ve been working on for the past three months and will probably still be working on it for another 3. I like when the process goes beyond intuition – if I’m really immersed in making, properly sucked in, the materials kind of take over. I work on several pieces at one time, always. It’s pretty haphazard when it’s going well.



Could you name a book you would recommend to every artist? (Not necessarily art-related)

And why?


Sweet Nothings by Marlene Dumas – essay called ‘Women and Painting’ – more of a poem really and SO good.

Virus by Linda Stupart.

Right now I’m reading a book by T’ai Smith called Bauhaus Weaving Theory and there is an essay called ‘Pictures Made of Wool’.


Do you have any advice for other artists? Particularly students/emerging? 


Be patient, realise that it’s a long game and don’t take compliments or criticism too seriously. 

Surround yourself with other artists if you can.

Wear gloves and masks and don’t get cadmium paints on your skin/mouth/eyes – it is poison!

Advice from students can be good too!! – younger artists are often far wiser than we give them credit for and less cynical. 


What has been your biggest challenge in pursuing art?


Time and money. After my MA, which was quite theory heavy, I took a long break where I wasn’t making work regularly and working a full time job– being away from the studio was brutal.Isolation is necessary for me to make work but it can be difficult so finding that balance is important too.



Do you have any exhibitions coming up? Where/when? 

Not right now. I am making work for this year and have a few studio visits coming up so let’s see.