Emily Blom’s Enwrapped explores the relationship between textiles and femininity, embracing a world of transformation, illusion and masquerade.
The work considers the nature of cloth and how it acts as the body’s second skin. It swaddles us at birth, covers us in sleep and shrouds us in death. It exists as a constant, yet changing addition to the human body. One that provides warmth, comfort and protection. Yet it exists in many guises, as it is woven, coloured, and embellished; an ever-changing exhibition of status, culture and identity.
These paintings are a series of constructed tableaux’s that deal with three symbolic stages of life; being childhood, a coming of age and the maternal. Women and children are presented swathed in cloth, adorned in pearls and wrapped up neatly in bows and ribbons. The decadent colours, weaves, and braids represent the female desire to create beauty in the everyday.
The works draws on deeply embedded cultural associations, such as white lace, which is synonymous with purity and innocence, or red velvet as a symbol of feminine sexuality. The figures exude beauty and decadence, yet there is an underlying delicateness and frailty within them, as if there is a sadness that cannot be shared.
The works reference well known historical paintings, drawing on the language of allegory typical of the Renaissance period, as well Greek mythology, Japanese culture and European mysticism. Each piece is layered with subjective meanings and symbols. Hidden messages and narratives are hinted at, but never fully explained.
The figures are suspended in black and white, painted to appear like hand-tinted photographs. Their quiet and subtle beauty is juxtaposed against the dramatic colours and textures of their costuming, reminiscent of vintage glamour postcards and European print media. The result is a series of intriguing, dreamlike mise en scénes that exist somewhere between reality and fiction, in the space between what is revealed and what is concealed.
Emily uses a variety of painting, printmaking and graffiti techniques to create layered works that are rich in colour, pattern and texture. Her multi-faceted approach results in work that is both theatrical and surprisingly intimate, revealing a fragility many of us share.