Homegrown: An Exhibition of Painted Adventures by Emma Howell
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Homegrown: An Exhibition of Painted Adventures by Emma Howell

Hobbycraft were delighted to attend the private view of Emma Howell’s first solo show, Homegrown. The exhibition presents the culmination of eighteen months of healing, in a vibrant celebration of works inspired by the pages within Emma’s adventure journals.

Emma is an artist living and working in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. She graduated with a BFA from the University of Gloucestershire in 2015, and has since exhibited work both nationally and internationally. Emma’s work is dedicated to her Dad, whose loss taught her how to embrace the adventure that life can offer.

If you are new to Emma’s work, we encourage you to take a moment to read her Meet the Maker, where she explains her working process in depth. You can also read her recent post explaining How to Experiment with Watercolour.

‘Homegrown’ consists of ten large artworks, presented as sequels to – or adaptations of – the pages found within the journals, with each work in turn having its own story and origin. Upon spending time with these artworks, the individual energies conjured by the layered textures and movements in each piece are immediately evident. The shapes – much like when cloud-watching, burst from the paper, with each fresh set of eyes finding different figures and narratives within.

Reflecting these larger artworks, 30 smaller mixed media artworks, ‘The How Series’, hang in a grid formation. These pieces are deconstructions of the colours and marks sourced from within the journals.

Emma explains that her paintings ‘are here to take you on your own adventure and to introduce you to a new perspective. An energetic, coiled mark could be a brisk wind or a complex conversation. A block of colour is to grab your attention, evoke a mood or contextualise a particular setting – perhaps sea, land, or sky. Repetitive lines act as a meditative exercise, feelings of humdrum or the structure of an environment – like the flow of a river, rows of shrubbery, or the contours of a cliff face.’ By showing us these works, Emma hopes to show us where she has been, and her sensory experiences along the way.

Alongside the paintings, a cabinet displays the supplies and materials that Emma uses in her studio to create her artworks. Her adventure journals sit neatly stacked upon the top shelf, bravely inviting us to explore the initial processes, vulnerable moments, and fleeting thoughts that contribute to the works. Emma’s willingness to share these personal documents encourages an open dialogue about the struggles and triumphs that we all experience.

The works themselves combine an intruiging array of materials – from watercolour paints, to fluid acrylic paints, to pastels, to the humble pencil. We also spotted a less traditional medium on the shelf- rock salt! These mediums playfully interact with one another on the page to conjure unpredictable and exciting visions and textures, with masterfully controlled lines sitting comfortably alongside unrefined bursts of colour, in carefully balanced compositions. It is this that makes Emma’s work so encouraging, open, and inspiring. It makes all who view wish to try their hand with these mediums themselves – the truest call to adventure.



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