Suffolk-based artist Emma Johnson works with maps and paper to create 3D layered art. Exploring themes of memory, time and history, Emma deconstructs found objects to create new, multifaceted collages. Emma’s process is an act of transformation, of reworking the functional into something new, complex and unique. By making something readable suddenly unreadable, Emma’s art invites the viewer to consider themes of identity, alienation and contradiction.
Emma studied at Jacob Kramer College of Art in Leeds and the University of Reading before going on to train at The Slade School of Fine Art. Since graduating in 1992, Emma has done residencies in both the UK and Hungary. Established throughout the UK, the US and Australia, Emma’s art has travelled the world to show in exhibitions globally. Her most recent solo show in 2018, The Head of Art’s Shirt followed the immense success of her Points of Reference Show, which brought together sculptures and installations, and marked the beginning of her work with maps.
The vast majority of Emma’s works are small scale pieces due to the size of the original maps. When creating any given piece, Emma sources a collection of maps, all of which are the same size, then starts the layering process. The painstaking act of dissecting each map with a scalpel leaves a skeletal-like structure to form one of the surfaces of the piece. Many of Emma’s works maintain elements of truth and fact, thus making the viewer question our own perception of reality. For instance, the illustrative piece, Paris Left Bank refers to a real geographical area, yet through abstraction, the structure of the city is transformed into a new, imagined place.