If you haven’t walked up Fore Street and seen the new artwork adorning the window of the former YMCA shop then you are missing a treat! Artist Emma Jones has yet again donated her time and talent for Kingsbridge Town Council and waved her magic pens, transforming the second empty space (@11 Bakery being the first).
Town Councillor Dena Bex interviewed Emma whilst she carried out the work in the sweltering heat a couple of weeks ago and extracts of the interview can be read below. If you want to contact Emma (she is available for commissions and collaborations) then you can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org and her work can be seen on her website: www.emmajones.ink.
Extracts from the interview between Emma Jones and Cllr Dena Bex:
Emma is illustrating a shop window in full sun, 30 ft wide and 9ft tall in Kingsbridge High Street, South Devon. It’s 10.30am and already 24 degrees. Trying to complete an enormous piece of art, on a public high street in what Emma describes as being “in a gold fish bowl” can’t be easy; let alone in an August heat wave! Completely exposing her artistic process and the way she works to the passers by takes, to my mind, a particularly positive mind set and Emma certainly comes across as someone with oceans of positivity.
Emma approached Kingsbridge Town Council and the Tourist Information Centre about beginning a project in Kingsbridge after her partner, Simon, who lives with her and her two children, suggested she start to think about how she could get some local work. Simon regularly shops on the High street and had noticed some of the empty shops and the idea was born. After many months of liaising and tracking down landlords, Emma and the town council came up with the idea of her project in the hope that it would be a way of “cheering up the High Street and encourage some kind of movement back in to the window.”
It was whilst living in London that Emma first gained a commission to illustrate for restaurant chains. She’s bashful about her past work and isn’t even tempted to boast about her illustrious career. She has had an eclectic work life, completed a foundation in Art, studied in Biology and Environmental Science, worked in SE Asia for a Wildlife conservation organisation and has experience of set design for music videos and commercials.
Whilst I’m talking to her I notice whole rows of tourists pause and consider her illustrations. People stop and point her art out to one another, often taking a moment to register what she’s doing and then usually they smile. The smile is genuinely followed by a thumbs up and Emma says she’s felt lucky this week to have “met nice people” that “give me a thumbs up!”.
Her hints and tips for youngsters are insightful. She advocates working for free ( at least in the first instance) explaining that the power of allowing people to try before they buy is really worthwhile; a sort of “I’ll do this and if you like what I do then you can pay me” approach. She says volunteering pays dividends and illustrators always have to be prepared to work really long hours. Emma has worked on buildings as tall as the Market Hall, drawn from scaffold towers surrounded by builders, away from home, and carried her kit around from job to job in the panniers of her bike. She’d like to see a future that gives her more time to do her own printing and painting and dreamily started talking about having more time by herself but quickly qualifies that by saying studio time “sounds dreamlike but it’s not always and everyone needs feedback. We need to play off each other.”
Emma is helping Kingsbridge Town Council open its eyes to need, ears to ideas and arms to community. She is an invaluable link for the council to new opportunities that the artistic community can offer our neighbourhood and shows the possibilities for collaboration are endless. The Town Council are thrilled with her displays and hope other local landlords with vacant properties will harness the opportunity to work with Emma and, as she describes it “encourage some kind of movement back in to the windows.