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Somerset-born-and-bred Emma Rose creates her contemporary paintings from an idyllic setting

PUBLISHED: 17:11 21 June 2010 | UPDATED: 03:47 06 February 2013

Somerset-born-and-bred Emma Rose creates her contemporary paintings from an idyllic setting

Somerset-born-and-bred Emma Rose creates her contemporary paintings from an idyllic setting

Somerset-born-and-bred Emma Rose creates her striking, contemporary paintings from an idyllic setting in her Wellow studio, which is a regular haunt for the local schoolchildren, writes Sarah Ford

The pretty village of Wellow, with its fine stone houses, 14th-century church and packhorse bridge, sits comfortably in a valley close to the city of Bath. It is a quintessential English rural parish, which has its own village hall, a shop saved from closure by the community and a thriving primary school of some 100 pupils. Teachers regularly take the youngsters to play in the orchard belonging to local artist Emma Rose. And on one recent visit
the children came face to face
with a pair of lions.
The majestic beasts are among 100 life-sized models which have been decorated in a wide range of styles by different artists before taking up residence on the streets of Bath, where they are bringing a smile to passers-by and raising funds for charity. Emma was one of those commissioned to take part in the Lions of Bath public arts event and on my visit to her studio she was putting the finishing touches to the sculptures.

Her studio, which opens out onto the orchard, is a vibrant, warm, inviting space; it is a regular haunt for friends who can often be found happily ensconced on the sofa with a glass of wine while planning some artistic endeavour. In a more formal art environment people can often feel intimidated, says Emma, surrounded by her striking, contemporary paintings which seem to be a reflection of the artists natural vivacity.
I want them to feel they can come here to talk about a commission, to talk about their thoughts and experiences and anything that helps the creative process. She continues, Its also great to go to clients own homes to see the possibilities of space, colour and light. Most purchasers have ended up friends, its a wonderful experience.
Emmas extensive travelling
is recorded in her work. Peacock Wind, for instance, is inspired
by the birds iridescent blue-green plumage witnessed on a lengthy expedition through India
and Nepal.
Her paintings are often abstract visions of sky, water, nature and have a highly unusual iridescent quality, taking on different hues with the change of light. I work with acrylics, enamel, Indian ink, sand, glitter, glue, brushes, hands, rollers, sticks, feathers, natural sponges anything that is lying around until the picture sings like a living thing. What really inspires me is colour, patina and decay. I work hard to translate this into my work, picking out the decrepitude, tone and hue. Its like making scent taking the whole and distilling right down to the essence thats how I feel about my work.


Her studio, which opens out onto the orchard, is a vibrant, warm, inviting space

Mind you, I drive my family nuts. In the South of France
last summer I ended up taking hundreds of photographs of
rust, bark, pavements, ripples, figs, fronds, even pastry. The light was incredible, it changed everyday objects. No wonder artists through the ages have flocked there; even the rocks glistened with gold and the
sand was flecked with silver.
It was inspiring.
A voracious reader, Emmas work often suggests her love of the classics and ancient references are presented with a modern twist like the painting reminiscent of a piece of ancient parchment shot through with glitter. There is a hint of theatricality in much of
Emmas style.
This feature of her work will come as no surprise to those who know Emma Rose. Her colourful family instilled in her a love of art, theatre, literature, photography, dance, and a wanderlust. She grew up in the tiny hamlet of Lower Stratton near South Petherton and lived briefly in Stoke-sub-Hamdon, before settling in Montacute with her mother and stepfather. At the same time she regularly visited London, to see her father and stepmother. She counts herself extremely fortunate to have parents and step-parents that she adores.
They all have diverse interests and natures. With one set of parents I would explore woods, visit gardens, play with the animals a real rural existence. With the others, we would go to the theatre, films, art galleries and travel. This was a delicious mix of countryside and city to tap into creatively while growing up. I was always making things, writing, painting, dancing and daydreaming.
After school I moved to London, went to St James College and The Dance Centre in Covent Garden. I had a fascinating working life in the arts, seeing projects from conception to exhibition, working at Maybox Theatres, Zooom Photographic, Mayfair Entertainment and Film & General Productions alongside Kenneth Branaghs Renaissance Films, Merchant Ivory and theatrical impresario Bill Kenwright, to name but a few.
As musical theatre was also a passion I joined FLOS, then the legendary Theatre In Trust group with whom I danced/ choreographed for ten years. Many of the films Ive worked on were premiered in Leicester Square. It was rather surreal leaving work and two minutes later sashaying up the red carpet, Emma laughs.
After a vibrant London life Emma decided to return to Somerset and moved to an idyllic cottage in Wellow where she took up picture framing and painting. She met her husband to be, John, and the couple got engaged after their first date. They married on Valentines Day, 12 years ago.
Emma and John have two daughters, Delilah, nine, and Genevieve, aged seven, and all the family seem to have an artistic, creative bent. Although John has a demanding day job he also performs and writes for a village band called Firefly. Emma sings with the Frome Songbirds choir, and their children are already enthusiastic members of
a weekend stage school.
The family seem to enjoy life in the thriving, creative community of Wellow. Everyone who comes here says it is a special place.
I must have been somehow summoned here. Whats the likelihood of coming from London to this secret valley, and meeting the man of your dreams?


Emma Rose is taking part in the Drawings from the Well exhibition at The Guildhall, Bath, from 7 July to 17 August. For more information go to www.emmaroseartworks.com or contact emmaroseis@hotmail.co.uk.
For more Somerset artists profiles visit somerset.greatbritishlife.co.uk

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