Local artist Emma Brown has been supported by Culture Warrington to achieve funding from Arts Council England and a commission from Warrington Borough Council to create original art work to commemorate WWI.
My Subject is War is a multi-disciplinary visual arts project exploring Warrington’s role in the First World War (1914-18). Illustrator and artist Emma Brown will create two window murals and an exhibition of animated work focusing on local war stories, hospitals, industry and propaganda.
The first mural, located at Contact Warrington in the town centre is on display since Thursday 19 March when Emma added new scenes to the mural during a ‘live art’ session.
The second mural, located in Golden Square sees two ‘live art’ sessions create the entire artwork directly onto the glass providing an opportunity to see the artistic process in action and see Emma’s artwork take shape. Emma will be drawing throughout the day on 24 & 25 April and 8 & 9 May.
The exhibition of animated work will be open at Pyramid from 18 July – 29 August.
Emma’s 2014 illustrated window ‘The First World War – 100 Years’ is currently on display at Pyramid box office.
Thursday 19 March – ‘Live Art’ – Contact Warrington, Horsemarket Street 9am – 5pm
Friday 24 and Saturday 25 April – ‘Live Art’ – Golden Square Information Desk 9am – 6pm
Friday 8 and Saturday 9 May – ‘Live Art’ – Golden Square Information Desk 9am – 6pm
18 July – 29 August – Animated Exhibition – Pyramid & Parr Hall – Pyramid Gallery
An exhibition of animation work by illustrator and artist Emma Brown. The work focuses on Warrington’s First World War history interpreting stories of local soldiers, Warrington’s industrial contributions and the local Red Cross hospitals. The short films have been created using a combination of hand-made and digital techniques.
The exhibition is part of ‘My Subject is War’, a multi-disciplinary arts project commissioned by Culture Warrington for the Centenary of the First World War. The project is supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.’
See more about this and other work by Emma at www.emmabrownowl.com
Interview with the Artist – Emma Brown tells us about her process and art
Tell us about the idea your project in Warrington for the First World War Centenary?
The idea for the project came last year after I completed a window mural at Pyramid & Parr Hall in Warrington. This mural was also focused on the First World War with over 150 hand-drawn illustrations capturing scenes from all over the world. The idea to take the project further and produce another two murals and an exhibition came about from the encouragement of the Arts Engagement Team at Culture Warrington – they backed the idea from the start and pushed me to apply for financial support through Arts Council England. The first window was a success and it seemed like a natural move to continue with the ‘live art’ format; the idea for the exhibition of animated work stemmed from my passion for animation; I wanted to use ‘My Subject is War’ as an opportunity to further my animation skills and experiment.
For the content I wanted to keep the focus local, Warrington made significant contributions to the war effort through industry and a number of Red Cross hospitals were set up in the area taking in thousands of patients during the war period. I wanted to celebrate this effort and encourage the people of Warrington to think about their local and family history and how this has impacted on their lives. I carried out workshop sessions with local groups at the beginning of the project providing residents with an opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas on the subject.
The input of Culture Warrington and Warrington Borough Council has been integral to ‘My Subject is War’ and the project has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Where have you been drawing so far?
In March I carried out a one day ‘live art’ session at Contact Warrington in the town centre; these drawings were part of an installation combining printed vinyl with hand-drawn illustrations.
What have you been drawing?
So far I’ve been drawing scenes of nurses and patients from Red Cross hospital Raddon Court and the decorated Broadbent Sisters who ran the hospital, land girls from Hatton, the workers from Rylands and Whitecross Wireworks, drill sessions taking place in front of the town hall. The drawings are all from photographs collated by Culture Warrington’s Heritage and Archive Team and contributed by Bewsey Local History Society.
What can people expect from the live art events taking place in April and May?
The ‘live art’ events in April and May will provide an opportunity to see inside the creative process. I’ll be starting with two completely blank panes of glass which I’ll be completing over four sessions (24 and 25 April and 8 and 9 May). The public will gain an insight into the way that I work on glass, how I’ll be planning out the layout and the way that I build up the drawings using line and tone. During the creation of the first mural at Pyramid & Parr Hall a lot of the public were surprised that the work was actually being hand-drawn by a real person and this interest was something that stuck with me while I was planning ‘My Subject is War’. I think it’s really important for the public to see the process from start to end – it’s more engaging when you can see the artist at work.
What materials have you used for the project and how did you find using them?
For the ‘live art’ I’ve been using Posca pens which are great for working on glass – there’s quite a wide range of colours however I’ve stuck to a limited palette to keep the illustrations simple. I find them really comfortable to work with as I usually draw in pen at home so it’s not too much of a change.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Outside of ‘My Subject is War’ I’m inspired by collections of objects or creatures, landscapes and food however my biggest influence comes from storytelling. I enjoy starting a project with a narrative and working out how to transform the words into a visual output. I think this is why I enjoyed looking into Warrington’s First World War history; there are so many interesting stories about ordinary people and it’s really exciting for me to be able to interpret those stories through the illustrations and animation.
Which artists and illustrators do you admire?
Charles Keeping, Eric Carle, Graham Sutherland, Lotte Reiniger, Joseph Cornell and Judith Kerr are all favourites of mine.
Which illustration that you have made are you most proud of?
I think I’d have to choose the window mural at Pyramid & Parr Hall (‘The First World War: 100 Years) and the ‘My Subject is War’ vinyl installation at Contact Warrington. Both of these pieces stand out to me because they were so challenging. Both are large scale pieces of work – sizes that I never imagined being able to work to when I was starting out and for both illustrations I learnt new skills and working methods that have been invaluable.
Do you have any advice for illustrators starting out?
Be very patient! Work hard, persevere, stick to deadlines and be flexible. One commission leads to the next if you put in the time and effort but it does take a long time to build up momentum.
What’s next for you?
The next step is completing ‘My Subject is War’ so in addition to the two ‘live art’ sessions taking place at Golden Square I’ll be creating an animation recognising the efforts made by Warrington in the First World War. This will be exhibited from 18 July to 29 August at Pyramid & Parr Hall.
Artist and Illustrator Emma Brown grew up in Warrington before accepting a place at Manchester School of Art where she achieved a Diploma in Art Foundation Studies and a BA in Design and Art Direction. While at University Emma focused on developing her illustrative skills and since graduation has worked as a professional illustrator and artist. In 2014 she studied printmaking at Hot Bed Press in Salford – an area of practice that she is interested to explore further.
Emma has established a career in a competitive industry, building up a lengthy client list and exhibiting at shows throughout the UK. Her aim is to continue developing her practice as a creative professional using the experience gained through ‘My Subject is War’ to scope out new challenges and commissions, ideally incorporating printmaking and animation into her future work.
See more about this and other work by Emma at www.emmabrownowl.com