Having known Emily and written about her work for over 15 years, it seems to me that the confidence of her current paintings is a reflection of Emily’s approach as an artist. Throughout her career she has created paintings that are at once beautiful and tough, always packing a visceral, emotional punch that make the viewer re-view what they thought they knew and recognised in the world around them.

Emily’s re-imagining of the everyday began 10 years ago with the work that she produced in response to her children. Their experience of the world became her focus. She started taking a sideways glance at the familiar in a joyful yet very real way. The results are un-clichéd images of her children that are poignant, delicate but at the same time raw and uncompromising. The large ‘Day to Day’ drawings act as a bridge to her more recent work. Inspired by the composition of Chinese scroll paintings, these drawings have a quiet elegance to them. Their poetic use of space – of  placing several figures in their own islands of space and time – has continued into the swimming paintings.

Perhaps the large scale of Emily’s recent work has something to so with trying to capture the impossible, continually moving space of the water in a swimming pool; water that is transformed by excited figures splashing and diving, creating infinite, never repeating patterns. The swimming pool environment is Emily’s biggest challenge yet, but rather than growing tired of it or shying away from it, she embraces it and finds it endlessly rewarding. This attitude suggests that as an artist, Emily is at the top of her game – sure of her abilities and ready to produce unapologetic, confident and beautiful paintings.

Emily Ball was born in 1967 in Colchester Essex. She went to Exeter College of Art where she gained a BA in Fine Art Painting in 1989. She continued developing her painting, doing residencies, undertaking public commissions and exhibiting in the South East for the next 10 years. Alongside her painting she established privately run courses in Contemporary Painting and Drawing in West Sussex. These courses have gained a reputation of being excellent, innovative and challenging: enabling the students to become successful artists in their own right, exhibiting nationally and internationally.

In 1999 Emily gained an MA in painting from The Surrey Institute of Ar t & Design, Farnham. She had her first child in 2001 and second in 2004 and during this period produced ambitious and successful paintings. She has exhibited at the RA Summer Exhibition and been a prize winner at the Chichester Contemporar y Open, judged by Maurice Cockrill RA, Jennifer Durrant RA and Nicholas Usherwood, art critic. In August 2005, in recognition of her reputation and talent as a painter and teacher, Seawhite of Brighton (supplier s of art materials) gave Emily a large space in which to paint and teach within their premises. Now, in 2012, her courses have a growing international reputation, helped by the publication of her book ‘Drawing and Painting People – A Fresh Approach 2009. During the last four years she has been working on a huge body of work created in response to her children learning to swim. A book of this work will be published later this year.

Jane Nash
March 2012

Click here for information about Emily’s book
Drawing and Painting People – a Fresh Approach