Making and creating plays a really huge part in who I am as a person

Published on 03 July 2020

Emma Ward

A medical issue in 2010 made local artist Emma Ward sit up and take notice of what was most important to her – ART.

In 2010 I discovered I had cataracts in both eyes. I was in my early thirties when I had surgeries to remove them, and it felt like a lesson from karma to remind me to stop ignoring my talents. That was the ‘wake up’ moment, and I knew I wanted to make a career as an artist.

WHAT DOES BEING AN ARTIST MEAN TO YOU?

I’ve always been a very intuitive person and as a child I always turned to creativity for company and a way to express my feelings.  In the last few years I’ve realised that making and creating plays a really huge part in who I am as a person.

HOW HAS YOUR STYLE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

My style evolves as I evolve as an artist.  I get bored doing the same thing, so experimenting and learning new skills keeps me excited and I enjoy learning new techniques.  I’ve always loved portrait and figurative artwork and I love working with nature.  In the past my painting style has focused on realism, but during COVID I’ve experimented with different materials and supplies and during this emotional time I’ve developed a love of intuitive abstract painting.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR CQ ARTISTS WHO ARE LOOKING TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP WITH THEIR ART?

Keep learning and keep evolving.  Having connections with other artists is great too.  It’s nice to have support from people who have similar interests and there is always something to learn from other creatives.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ARTISTIC INFLUENCES?

Too many to list!  I am constantly learning about other artists who inspire me.  I have a particular passion for learning about other women in the arts, past and present. 

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE SUBJECTS FOR YOUR ARTWORKS?

My emotional connection to themes plays a huge part in what I’m focusing on.  Motherhood continues to be a huge factor in my work, and recently this has evolved into works about nature and our human connections with it.  How it nurtures us, and its physical effects on our wellbeing.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION RIGHT NOW?

My biggest inspiration right now is learning about making my own pigments from local sedimentary rocks, and paint brushes from fallen branches and sticks.  I’ve made some beautiful ochre colours from rocks collected at various beaches in the area, they are very intense and slightly glittery.  I feel a bit like an alchemist in the studio right now!

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT LIVING IN THE ROCKHAMPTON REGION?

Living regionally has a wonderful dichotomy between urban and natural environment which I love.  I also appreciate our friendly arts community here and the wonderful relationship we have with our regional gallery.  I’ve been watching the development of our new gallery with great anticipation – it’s going to enhance our city in a beautiful way and encourage more visitors to Quay Street which is looking amazing.

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED?

Sustaining momentum during difficult times is hard and COVID has really had an impact on the arts opportunities such as exhibiting, teaching and competitions.  I’m looking forward to offering art experiences in my studio again as restrictions are lifted.  As with a lot of small business, most of my selling lately has happened online, and a lot of my paintings are shipped to homes around Australia. 

WHAT’S THE NUMBER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN?

“just be yourself darling”

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS?

I’ll be in my studio making art, hosting art retreats and experiences and selling my paintings and bespoke products.

Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to take in some artists residencies now my children are getting older.  I look forward to visiting more of our natural environments around CQ to inspire my love of nature painting.

ARE THERE OTHER ARTISTS IN YOUR FAMILY?

I’m the first! But I have 4 daughters who are all incredibly creative.  The Arts is an incredibly strong passion in our home.

YOUR DAUGHTERS ARE ALSO TAKING UP ARTISTIC ENDEAVOURS – TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.

My daughters are my greatest inspiration.  My eldest is almost 20 and in third year at CQU studying Bachelor of Arts, Visual Arts (who has just received the Young Arts Award – Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Society), I have a 17 year old (interested in design) about to finish high school,  a 13 year old (singer & musician) and an 11 year old (actress and inventor).  They all have a passion for Cultural activities such as learning string music, theatre performing, choir, visual art, design and writing.  It’s wonderful to encourage & support the next generation of place makers, especially here in Central Queensland!