Emily Besser ‘One Feeling at a Time’ (4-13 February)

Emily Besser is an Australian artist living in London, UK, working from her studio in Wimbledon. Emily completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours in Painting and then studied law, working in Native Title and Environmental law. After 10 years she returned to her painting practice and has been exhibiting regularly since then, as well as running art and jewellery workshops. Before leaving for London Emily worked as an Artist-Educator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, facilitating interactions with contemporary art for people of all ages and abilities. Emily is raising her two boys, with her partner, a journalist.


“These paintings were completed after the first London lockdown ended in 2020. After a few months of intense home-life, where work and play were intensely forged together, I was lucky to secure a studio space in Wimbledon to work in. With the kids back at school, I painted frenetically for the following few months, processing the intense experiences, fragmentation and uncertainty of that period. On constant repeat was Michael Kiwanuka’s self-titled album and some beautiful Dylan and Sprinsteen-sounding albums by The War on Drugs. I was thrilled to have my alone-time again, and I felt joyous and grateful. There was dancing, and I painted and painted, enjoying the layering and erasure I couldn’t achieve with my coloured pencils at home in lockdown. I finished each painting only when I could ‘see’ a feeling.

For me, painting isn’t a statement but it can be poetry, with its very own language, a secret way of speaking in colour and shape about the things of life: sex, death, flowers, day, night, joy and pain. I don’t know how else, other than through painting, to come at all the strangeness, suffering and beauty in the world. Abstract painting can be notoriously inaccessible and difficult for an audience to ‘read’, but being a painter is a blissful experience, much of the time. I hope some of that rubs off on the viewer”.

‘One feeling at a time’ is a calming mantra, something I say to myself and my sons when too many feelings come at once. As I write this, I’m back in the ‘forge’, our third lockdown. It’s different this time around, we are weary of the isolation, it’s colder and there is much less light. We’re in the thick of it, counting the days, one at a time, even counting the parts of the day. But I am so happy that my paintings are able to be exhibited in Sydney. I can still feel the warmth and energy I felt when I painted them and the memories and feelings in me that nourished them into existence. I hope you enjoy them and that you too can find your own feelings, one at a time, in these works.”


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