Emily Stollery, Untitled, 2018
Emily Stollery, Untitled, 2018

“Creating imperfect things perfectly. I like to think of that as a strength.”


Emily Stollery





Emily Stollery photographed by Mike Kane (2)
Emily Stollery photographed by Mike Kane

Who are you? What do you do?

I’m a recent Fine Art Graduate from Nottingham Trent University, now living and working in Nottingham with a studio at One Thoresby Street.

Where are you from?

Born in Melbourne, raised in Huddersfield.

Your style in 3 words?

In the moment

Your weakness? Your strength?

I’d say a weakness of mine can be getting too stressed about things that go wrong, in my work or just generally. However, my practice has seen me develop my problem solving skills to a point where the things that go wrong, are often still involved in the finished work. Creating imperfect things perfectly. I like to think of that as a strength.

What makes you different?

I’d say my alterations of techniques such as casting and woodworking makes my making process different to others. For instance, with my ceramics, I cast forms without using a mould, by soaking materials in slip and then burning them away in the kiln. All that’s left are structures of air pockets, that filled the gaps of the original material. No one can be the same in this sense.

When did you decide to become an artist?

Well I knew I wanted to pursue Art when I began my A-Level studies. But only because it was something I loved doing, and still do. That’s what pushed me to do a Foundation Course and then a Degree in Fine Art. However, I’ve never really had the outlook of being an Artist as a career. Since I’ve just graduated this year, I feel in a strange place in my life where I’m not quite sure what to do next. I have goals I think I want to aim for, but I’m also quite comfortable just seeing where things go. Who knows what I could end up doing.

Emily Stollery, to and fro, 2018
Emily Stollery, to and fro, 2018

What do you find most fascinating about the creative process?

I love how unpredictable the materials I work with can be. And that’s exactly what draws me to work with them. Materials have a behaviour in the sense that sometimes they will cooperate, and work with you, and other times go against you. There’s a to and fro between maker and material that I find really captivating as I make my work, and so I can almost never quite predict how the finished form will look. As the materials change through various processes, often the form does too. There have been times I’ve put something in the kiln and its come out completely differently;

slumped, broken, exploded! Things snap, don’t quite do what you want them to, but that’s part of my exploration of learning how I can (or can’t) exploit these materials I’m working with.

A few words about your favourite creation?

I was most proud of my degree show piece, Stand, Lean, Others Don’t (They Don’t Do That). It felt like a culmination of many ideas that I had developed over that year, whilst at the same time, really pushing new things. It’s definitely the most ambitious work of mine to date, and I’m really pleased I’ve been able to exhibit it outside of university since.

Emily Stollery, Bend, Bend. End to End, 2018
Emily Stollery, Bend, Bend. End to End, 2018

Someone else’s work that inspired or inspires you…

I’m continually inspired by my peers, which is why I loved the studio environment so much at university- and another reason I’m so grateful to be working amongst others again, in my new studio. Some artists outside of this that I admire include Dave Hardy, Lynda Benglis, Rachel Whiteread, as well as furniture designers such as Joseph Walsh. I’m drawn to how each of these makers works with materials and manipulates them in different ways through various processes.

A new project coming up or an idea you want to work on?

I’ve been sketching ideas for new ceramic works, new forms and new materials. I plan to keep pushing the steam bending element that I developed during my final year of university, because I in no way see that as finished yet. Graduating hasn’t put a standstill on my work, so I can’t wait to get into my studio and get going. I’ve had a break from making, and now I’ve got a lot of energy and excitement to get back at it again. I’ve got a residency with Spare Room Residency lined up in the new year, as well as some other projects on the go, which I’m really excited about.

Emily Stollery, Detritus, 2018
Emily Stollery, Detritus, 2018

Finish the sentence „More important than my career is…“

My family, my friends, and my dogs- because they all keep me afloat if things ever go wrong.

2018: Where are we going?

Is it too early to look forward to Christmas?

When the going gets tough…

I take a breather, walk away from the situation for a while, and come back to it with a cooler mindset.

Your city’s favourite spots?

There are some fantastic galleries and artist led spaces in Nottingham that show such a variety of Contemporary Art. But there’s so much of Nottingham that I feel like I still haven’t seen yet!

Emily Stollery, Bend, Glue, Prop, Screw, 2017
Emily Stollery, Bend, Glue, Prop, Screw, 2017

Do you have a vision?

My practice will never just be one thing, I’m continuously looking for the next thing; the next material, the next process, the next thing I can learn. To be honest, I’d get bored otherwise. So I have no idea what I’ll be making this time next year, it could be something completely out of my ordinary.

What would you do if you could change the World?

Well in an ideal world I’d eradicate all of the plastics in the Oceans and put more money into the conservation of wildlife. It makes me sad watching nature documentaries and seeing so much of our planet go into decline.

Tell us about your future plans…

In the near future I’m going to focus on making some new work, and getting that out there into exhibitions (hopefully). My other goal is to do a Masters, but I’m not yet sure where or when that will be. I think this year, out of the safety net of university, will help me decide that.

Emily Stollery, Sharing is Caring, 2017
Emily Stollery, Sharing is Caring, 2017

Last but not least: what is your favourite Song?

That really varies depending on my mood and what I’m doing, I listen to all sorts!

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