June 16, 2016
One exhibition: 14 rooms and 1200 paintings, photographs, sculptures and installations — it’s enough to overload even the most ardent art-lover.
Well-known Auckland photographer Emma Bass can attest to that.
Bass has been moving toward art photography for several years, describing it as her first love. Now she’s one of 1200 artists, from 12,000 worldwide submissions, exhibiting at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in London.
Bass submitted one of her hydrangea images from her Imperfect flower series, which muses on the temporary nature of life and questions the definition of beauty. Her photograph was displayed at the end of the exhibition, at the exit to the gift shop. A quiet space, she says, with just three works on it. She saw her position, at the end of the show, as a metaphor for the fact she was the artist who traveled the furthest — “from the bottom of the world”.
Approaching the exhibition for the first time,Bass experienced a huge sense of overload, with 1200 works beckoning to be looked at and admired.
“There was almost panic at the visual input,” she admits. “I found myself having to close my eyes just to process so many different perspectives and creations. Each time I went through a room, I would discover works that I had walked past countless times but hadn’t registered. It was a constant expanse of discovery and left me full of amazement at the many unique perspectives [from] so many different minds.”
Bass visited the Royal Academy the week before the UK vote on whether to remain part of the European Union and says the atmosphere was one of unbridled joy and enthusiasm, with no expectation of the outcome to leave.
“Quite a number of the exhibition have sold, and I have heard from some of those buyers who say they can’t wait to have the work on the wall because it will cheer them up as they’re feeling so sad and overwhelmed by what happened with the Brexit referendum.”
She is now working on a new body of work. “It is a new trajectory, but a progression of the flower work. It’s quite exciting, different to what I’ve been doing.”
By Dionne Christian