The Others

Meet the Others: Emily Kirby

The Game Changers. The Rule Breakers. The Innovators. Discover some of the fantastic emerging talent showcasing their work at The Other Art Fair.

The majority of The Other Art Fair London exhibitor Emily Kirby’s work draws on the study of people and wildlife, using the figure as the central object for interpretation. Read more about Emily’s background, from her experiences living around the globe to her piece of advice for fellow artists.

Tell us about who you are and what you do. What is your background? 

I’m a figurative painter.. I take the majority of my inspiration from my experiences living in different parts of the world. I was born into a family of artists in Zambia and regularly return there to travel, paint and exhibit. I think this has heavily influenced my colour palate.
I have been working as a full time artist since 2008, when I took a studio in Stone Town, Zanzibar and produced my first complete body of work. I grew up in the UK and have recently returned to live in Brighton. Previous to that I was living in Madrid and Cadiz for four years. Much of my most recent work is still informed by my time out there, especially my female nudes. I found Spain to have an interesting contrast between a largely conservative society and extremely bold and rising feminist movement.

If you could describe your work in 3 words, what would they be? 

Bold, Figurative, Environmental

How did you first get interested in your mediums and what draws you to them specifically?

I started like many painters, with acrylics, but soon became aware of oil paint and its versatility. I now work with both as I enjoy their contrasting qualities. I also like to incorporate drawing materials depending on the piece.

Can you walk us through your process? How do you know when an artwork finished? 

I often start with a completely abstract painting and then introduce figures. My process then becomes a back and forth between the two. I enjoy abstract painting and I love to allow the work to be as loose as possible. Finding that moment when you feel the work is finished can be really difficult. If I can sit and spend time with the work and find interesting, even surprising elements within it, whilst as a whole it holds together, I start to think it’s getting there.

Has being in isolation affected your artwork practice in any way?

Just before lock down I left my studio. I really loved it there but also love to change things up, so I think I saw a new capture ahead and wanted to fully embrace that. I am currently looking at farm workshops being advertised outside of town. Working from home, space naturally becomes an issue after a while, but I’ve really enjoyed pausing and going back to the sketchbook, whilst continuing to work on smaller pieces. One negative – Having shows cancelled and a positive – having time to reflect on my practice.

What is the best advice given to you as an artist?

The art world is not made of one organism that you need to scale to become successful. It’s made up of many different villages, you need to find your village.

Shop artwork by Emily and other trailblazing artists at The Other Art Fair’s Online Studios.

Introducing The Other Art Fair Online Studios, a new online platform offering art lovers around the world access to over 800 Fair artists. The Online Studios will keep our community feeling inspired, engaged, and continue to spread joy through art.