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Artist Statement: Emily-Rose Millhouse

 

My work is the physical embodiment of the feelings created by the lack of control within the mind.

 

As an artist living in a complex “meritocratic” society, there is an existential pressure to hold a tight grasp over every aspect of life, or at least keep up appearances of. We are in a time where the individual is faced with a pandemic, a crumbling economy, a rise of unemployment and the looming climate emergency. Keeping control of relationships, maintaining physical and mental health, finances or even just managing the most trivial of tasks can seem like a losing battle. The self must retain control of these elements for fear of facing the consequences that can lead one to the underbelly of society and astray from societal norms resulting in a loss of capital, reduced social mobility or a deterioration of a mental state.

 

In my work, form is metaphor for loss of control. Form is also considered during the making process, as I am focused on how the visual physicality can affect the viewer. This is reflected through my consistent use of free-forming, fluid materials. These morph into their own forms uncontrollably, curated by contact with the atmosphere. By way of directing the material ambiguously, metamorphic forms are produced.

The tendency to work with challenging industrial materials such as tarmac or expanding foam, which naturally resist containment, is an important process for perceiving the metaphor through my work. By nature of choosing these materials I play with the assumed limits of mass, volume and height. Sculptures often balance or hang precariously using metal supports, much like in urban construction. This shift of scale relates to the body pushing its limits whilst maximizing my own physicality with the materials. Through choice of material and form, I also seek to reference urban landscapes. In doing so, I include found objects associated with urban exteriors from the everyday. I analyse their potential to reflect this imagery as I abstract them from their conventional context, reassembling and re drawing from which they were into these new environments. How authentic and organically tampered with these objects are, is essential in this process. Using imagery from roads, car parks, pathways and other surroundings I ultimately create imposing installations that can be visually menacing and chaotic.

My sculptures and objects often sit within visually dissociative environments, using sequences of audio for my sculptures to communicate within. I often collaborate with music creatives to produce repetitive, ambient sound pieces that feature dark, low registering bass sounds. Inspired by drum and bass music and the contemporary rave scene, I am interested in how sound, colour and light can create a hypnotic and captivating platform for the dark yet playful environments. From personal experience, the early stages of my work derived from elements of raves and nights-out whereby the presence of recreational drugs, combined with exhaustion and early mornings induce a lack of control. The mind is placed in this uncomfortable position, perhaps one that was originally intentional as a form of escapism for some.

I focus on idea of control, or rather, losing it.

 

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