In the Studio with Emma Fitts

Tell us about your current studio space; how does it affect the work you’re making?  

I’m currently at the Headlands Center for the Arts, set in the Golden Gate National Park of San Fransicso. The studio space here is amazing; it feels like the size of half a basketball court and is the largest studio I’ve ever had. I work a lot on the floor, so this studio has been excellent for allowing me to really stretch out and work on a number of pieces at once. The space has beautiful natural light coming through large windows that look out to the hills and lagoon. I’m always affected by the view and colours out the window. Seeing the greens of the hills, the blues of the water and pinks of small summer flowers has seeped into my work. I often walk up to Hill 88, which is an old military radar control station looking out across the Pacific Ocean. This location has become a focal point in a new body of work. 

What is the first thing you tend to do when you enter your studio for the day? Do you have a creative exercise or process that helps you begin your work? 

My general rule is to stay away from anything digital as I feel I can concentrate best in the morning and want to put this energy into my work rather than the internet. I love the light and freshness of the mornings, so always find it exciting to see how different things look in the studio in the morning if I’ve been working on them the night before. I have more energy in the mornings, so I use this time to do the hard work – painting and saturating canvases, rearranging them or even stitching the thick surfaces can be hard work so it’s best to get these things done early. 

Can you identify a pivotal place or experience that you feel has had a particular influence over the current direction of your work?

Residencies are always amazing experiences for me. I work really hard throughout them and tend to generate a lot of work that then informs my practice for the following year or two. The McCahon House residency was definitely like this for me; the isolation of the Titirangi bush, the large studio and support from the trust all helped me along the path of being an artist. I’m sure my time at the Headlands will be the same. I’m really excited about the work that I’ve produced here. It’s really colourful, bold and painterly. The Headlands has been fantastic as it’s had both the landscape for me to respond to as well as a community of established artists from around the world for me to learn from. 

If you could place any piece of artwork from history within your home what would it be and where would you place it? 

Desert Moon by Lee Krasner. It’s a collage work of the artist’s with fuchsia, orange and black.

When you have a day away from the studio where do you like to go?  

Driving, walking or shopping. 

If you could collaborate with any artist within history who would it be and what project would you work on together?  

Anni Albers. I would struggle to collaborate because I’d be so star struck.

What are the main themes you seek to explore within your practice? 

I’m interested in the archive and in particular creating an archive for those who have been left out of the canon of art. I think a lot about tactility and feeling within my work and often use the language of textiles and fibre arts to offer new connections between the past and present. I enjoy mixing up the disciplines of art – I often pluck aspects of textiles, painting, architecture, print and design to create work that can shape-shift across a variety of areas. 

What’s the best arts-related advice you’ve been given? 

Daydreaming is a valued activity. 

What projects are you currently working towards? 

I’m currently finishing up at the Headlands and am working towards a presentation of this new work in November. I’m looking forward to my third solo exhibition at Parlour Projects in 2020.

In the Studio with Emma Fitts