in the Category: art
Using feelings as a medium and visualising them can be really interesting
Emmie Ray Hubbard is a jeweller and sculptor concerned with sustainability and circularity. Her work is influenced by historic craft techniques, dating all the way back to the Bronze Age. With her home and studio in the Peak District, she centers her work by using local materials. She is currently in residency at the DIVA in Antwerp. She is one of the two first residents the museum has ever welcomed.
Interview by Camilla Peeters
Photos shot by Chiara Steemans
This looks like a really nice space.
The space is very impressive. The windows are my favourite. (laughs)
You have met Simon (Marsiglia - the other artist in residence) before, I suppose.
We met online. We have been working with Current Obsession for a year, on Gem Z, a talent accelerator programme. We met for the first time in real life when we got to Antwerp. It’s pretty intense. We live and work together now. We work in completely opposite ways.
Opposite ways, in what sense?
Simon straightaway got stuck in the workshop, making stuff, really experimental, hands-on with the material. I have been researching a lot in the library and with the museum collection. Our pace is completely different. It’s nice to be at a different frequency though. We are inspired by each other.
What has your research been on so far?
At the moment, I have been thinking about the terminology used to talk about diamonds. It can be very romantic and poetic. You can really personify some of the wording. We did a workshop over the weekend on the drawing of diamonds. You have to draw the ‘inner light’ before the light it projects. I think that during the pandemic we all turned in towards ourselves, which really resonated with me. When you think of a diamond museum, you think of cabinets and protective space distancing you from the object, so it’s nice to consider the wording in light of human emotions.
Diamonds are strange. They can be industrial and used for tools. On the other hand, there is this crazy preciousness to them, we give diamonds to someone to show them our deepest love, a promise of forever. There is something to play with in regards to the light and darkness of a diamond.
If you have intrusive thoughts and let your body sweat out toxins, it can be cleansing
How do you incorporate the topic of mental health into your work? It’s still taboo, even in the arts.
Especially in the arts, making anything has so much to do with your whole self. You are the human machine doing it, it’s your ideas, which are filtered through you. I am writing from a sense of experience. I want the reader to let those feelings in. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I want to express that it can be a beautiful thing as well. That is why I like using romantic terminology to talk about diamonds. Feeling like a raw diamond, cut to a rose. I have never spoken about mental health in my work before, but I don’t want to ignore it either, instead, I want it to be seen as a beautiful thing. Using feelings as a medium and visualising them from an artistic point of view can be really interesting.
You seem to value self-care rituals.
That has come to light during the pandemic. Being still made me realise how little self-care I was putting into being in the studio, being at work. As an artist or as someone who is self-employed, you can work any of the hours that you want. You could be sitting all day, alone with your own thoughts. Self-care has become really important to keep my practice alive. Walking is an obvious ritual, to gain perspective. Exercising, sweating is such an important one. Even if you are feeling down about external things, your body can process and get rid of toxins. It’s an amazing process and one that doesn’t demand much thought. Sweating is amazing. Metaphorically too, if you have intrusive thoughts and let your body sweat out toxins, it can be cleansing.
So your ideal working space would be half atelier, half gym?
Maybe a sauna in one part. (laughs)
More time to work doesn’t mean more productivity.
Definitely not for me. I think people should practise putting up a schedule. Time management is so important. It is important to sit and eat, away from the studio. I used to just grab food quickly and eat it in the studio, now I see massive importance in stopping, and sitting down to have lunch. All this stuff sounds really unromantic. As an artist, you always think of it being really messy, working all hours, your whole life is part of the work… I think it’s actually quite romantic to work from 9 till lunch, go for a nice lunch, and then go home at 6 and take time to be with your partner or be with friends or cook a really good dinner. Food is really important for me.
When we understand crafts, we understand the material. Then we can make choices
Do you have a favourite historic period?
I am quite interested in blurring times. I know that is very unscientific… (laughs) There is a general aesthetic to history that is very attractive. Timelessness is fascinating. It blows my mind that certain objects have survived for thousands of years.
The aesthetic of history is timelessness.
And not fully understanding it is why I am interested in it. To look back at the history of us, of humans, the idea that we have been here for thousands of years and that there could be a full stop is mind-blowing. I am so conscious of our impact, that is why I like looking back in time to search for answers.
In my work, I play with so much material. I am birthing objects into the world. What is its footprint, what is its history even before I put history into it? I used an ancient casting technique quite a lot. I cast metal into a clay mix. I collected the clay from a hill around where I live. This material is way more sustainable than the material used in a foundry today. You can crush up the clay and keep using it. There is a circularity to it. A potter said it to me one time: 'I dig my work up from the ground, I hope it will go back to the ground.' I think that is really beautiful. When we understand crafts, we understand the material. Then we can make choices.