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Emma Scully | Artist | Co. Cork, Ireland


Art can often be the vessel for a message to sail across the sea. When an act of such importance requires more than words to be understood Emma Scully (23) dives into practice with a magnificent display of empathy and solidarity. Emma is from Cork and a recent graduate of NCAD. Here, is where she worked for one year on her exhibition titled “I Will Serviva”: a project which aims to produce a hand-printed and hand-stitched patchwork quilt as an ode to the people of Ireland and around the world who experience homelessness. To accompany Emma’s patchwork quilt, the artist also performed a live act lasting 9825 seconds, with each second representing a person currently experiencing homelessness in Ireland. What a way to leave your stamp on not only the college you attended but an entire nation as well.


The direction of the live performance captured a collection of tones and moods. In one aspect we feel comforted being in a bedroom under a warm quilt and safe from harm… yet contrastingly there exists an eerie atmosphere to accompany us within the safety of the space. The photography of the exhibition captured by Fionnán Simpson exemplifies the feelings sought from the exhibition and questions our emotions throughout the performance. Should we be happy to know there is safety or should we feel sorrow understanding why there is a need for safety?

Dedicating a year of work towards producing a major project is a challenging task. Remaining resilient until the conclusion and constantly working towards that vision you have becomes true is a major accomplishment. How it’s design changes along the way yet the core message remains true throughout the journey. Emma Scully’s exhibition “I Will Serviva” is an immaculate way for her to cap off the year of work and leave her artistic stamp on Ireland. We spoke with Emma to discover the artist behind “I Will Serviva” and see unfold where all this inspiration arose from. You can read her interview below!

Hello, Emma Scully here. My pronouns are she/her, I’m from West Cork and I’m 23 years of age. I just graduated with a First class honours degree in Print from NCAD. I work at the Fine Art publishing house Stoney Road Press, and I am a member of The Graphic Print Studio and The Firestation Artists’ Studios. A little bit about me: my favourite book is John Boyle’s ‘Our Hearts Invisible Furies’. I go bouldering once a week and I love mash & gravy.

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The artist behind the art.

What does being an artist mean to you?

Being an artist allows me to stay in tune with my inner child, see the excitement in the mundane, express myself in any way possible, and live a life of creativity and fun. As an artist, you don’t clock out, you’re always working. I am constantly seeking out things that excite and intrigue me and am always generating future projects in my mind. Being surrounded by artists and living in the art world is the only way I can imagine my life. I could not possibly see any other option for myself

What events led to becoming an artist?

As a child, I was always creating and I think subconsciously I was working towards being an artist from the get-go. I drew every day and kept a notebook of my inventions (I was devastated when I found out someone had already invented the roller skate). My family have always been very supportive. My grandad always told me to ‘never stop drawing’ and made me promise him I would never give it up. He said I would thank him some day for the advice and he was right. Thank you grandad! I guess you were right!

Where do you find inspiration?

Social issues tend to inspire me to create. I want to create work that not necessarily showcases my opinions but opens a space for discussion. When Roe vs Wade was overturned my natural response was to fill pages in my notebooks with drawings that came to mind. I use drawing as a way of researching further into how I feel about things. I was gifted a pack of Tarot recently and have noticed symbolism and imagery from the Tarot deck creeping into my work. I spend a vast portion of my time researching symbolism and elements of a drawing usually have a deeper background than meets the eye.

Describe your artistic style.

My work presents itself through printmaking, sculpture, performance, and textiles. I tend to look at societal issues through a feminist and imaginative lens; often adopting a collaborative and socially engaged approach.

My recent project ‘I Will Serviva’, collaborates with people experiencing homelessness to produce a hand-printed, hand-stitched patchwork quilt. The work aims to highlight the imagination and creativity of those experiencing homelessness while raising money for The Peter McVerry Trust. This project took about a year to complete and I made a lot of meaningful connections along the way. Through conversation on the streets and drawing workshops held at drop-in centres, I attempted to illuminate the imagination of people experiencing homelessness.

Their dreams, etched in copper, transition from a fleeting imaginary narrative to a concrete form. The use of fabric was inspired by the tradition of patchwork protest art, however unlike the majority of patchwork art (such as the Named AIDS memorial quilt), my work is not a memorial for those who have lost their lives, but a cry for help for those that are still living. A live performance also took place in the exhibition space for a duration of 9825 seconds. Each second represents a person currently experiencing homelessness in Ireland. The Peter McVerry Trust expressed their support for the project and worked with me during the development of the project.

Who / what influences you?

My work is deeply influenced by Irish female artists, the feminist movement and surrealism. Feminism has been a strong theme in my work since I was about 12. I remember my secondary school art teacher got us to paint a self-portrait and I handed in an A3 painting of a vulva.

Lately, my work has been influenced by societal issues, of inequality and a drive to raise awareness and give back to communities.

What do you aim for your audience to feel when viewing your work?

For me, the work that goes on behind the scenes, the preparation, is of more significance to what the viewer sees. My body of work ‘I Will Serviva’ took 14 months to complete and consisted of so much more than putting the final piece together; in retrospect, making the final piece was the easy part. Through my work I hope people see a story, they see that there is so much more beneath the surface of the work.

I want to inspire them to seek out further information, and the urge to delve deeper into the subject. I enjoy creating work that leaves viewers with a sense of uncertainty. Unusual grotesque forms that are difficult to understand come into my work a lot, they’re like little hairy blobs, I don’t know why I gravitate towards them so much but I enjoy people’s reactions to them. Some are disturbed, others intrigued.

Plans for the future?

I’m currently working at the fine art publishing house Stoney Road Press where I work with artists to edition original prints. I’ve been there for over a year and it still feels like I’m living in a movie with my dream job. I was also awarded two residencies following my degree show which gives me access to the Graphic Studio Workshop and The FireStation Studios.

This will be a busy year for me as I begin working on a new body of abstract sculptural works as well as a new collection of etchings. I am very excited to see where this will lead 🙂

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