City Lit Blog

City Lit fine artist Emma Liebeskind - The London Group Open

Story added 5th Oct 2017

Emma Liebeskind - The Tempest Series / Espacio Show 2017 / Seed Head Loop (video still)

 

We caught up with fine artist Emma Liebeskind, who recently completed the City Lit fine art course, about her experiences of the course, video work and new group exhbition opening in November, The London Group Open.

What inspired you to sign up for the City Lit fine art course (CLFA) at City Lit?

I spent several years attending various short courses at the City Lit - creative writing as well as creative arts courses - before deciding to sign up for the City Lit fine art course, (CLFAC). Also, I was inspired by a friend who had taken the same route several years before.  In fact I went along to the PV for her show, and was impressed by the range of work I saw.  This was well over five years ago.  It was probably this moment combined with reading the Artists’ Way by Julia Cameron which turned me in the direction of the CLFAC.

What was your background prior to signing up for your course at City Lit

I work teaching psychology to sixth form students in a London girls’ school, before that I worked as an art teacher for 10 years, and before that spent five years working in arts administration at the Whitechapel Art Gallery.  Attending the CLFAC was about reconnecting with the creative arts after 15 years of trying to bring my passions for art and psychology together. It’s surprisingly hard to manage to do this and make a living in London, but I keep trying!!

Have you always had a passion for video or fine art in general, or is it something that has developed more recently?

My passion for fine art goes back to my playgroup days (over 50 years ago) when I won a prize for my painting.  I still finger paint with poster paints, and use the method as a therapeutic process when words are not enough.  Video making is something my tutor Chris Hough encouraged, and Monika Kita supported me with on the CLFAC.  It’s thanks to them that I made the choice to diversify my practice to include short films as well as prints, paintings and drawings.

How did the opportunity to be part of the London Group Open 2017 come about?

Someone from the course group sent a message arounf and I responded to it by submitting three pieces online.  The London Group is an independent artist led organisation founded in 1913, and has represented artists such as Auerbach and Hockney in its long history, so I was delighted that my short film was accepted.  

Ahead of the exhibition can you tell us little more about your project and the influences behind it. Is this work similar to your group CLFAC exhibition last summer?

The short film - Seed Head Loop - emerged from the CLFAC second year, when I was trying to “get out of the sketchbook” and project my work on the larger scale. The film records a jug of blue poppy seeds being poured in real time onto the pages of an open sketchbook.  The image in the book is a dark painting with collaged elements of a woman’s face.  It’s a surreal assemblage of suggestive imagery, and includes the incessant sound of the seeds bouncing off the pages of the book. 

How has the course transformed your approach to your work? Has it helped you with mapping out your future goals in any way?

The course really has changed the way I work.  It helped me develop an art habit.  If practice becomes second nature, you’re more likely to find yourself making work which speaks to some concern or idea which insists on being expressed, and this carries it’s own momentum.  The course validates the artistic process, and provides a reflective context amongst others who share the same need to make art.  The tutors provide constant feedback, and their reflections really enabled me to understand the deeper forces of art making by not rushing to foreclose development of an idea, resisting easy resolutions to visual problems, diversifying the artistic response to include the gamut of contemporary fine art practice and to appreciate the benefits of putting the time in. Doing the course has helped me define future goals as well - I would like to study for an MA  and I have started supervising sixth form art students again after years of being away from art teaching.  

What’s the dynamic like on the course?

The dynamic of the course depends largely on the group.  The first and second years of the CLFAC course felt quite different to me, as there were changes in personnel, also the first year is really quite structured, with lots of discreet elements, but the second year offers freedom to develop an independent practice, finishing with a final show in the Espacio art gallery.  What I take away with me is the experience of being in a supportive group for an extended time.  This feels quite special in a city which is constantly changing as London is.  

What’s the best thing about studying at City Lit?

Studying at the City Lit is a way of life!  I feel quite a veteran now.  The City Lit offers real flexibility with so many different routes of study available, along with the sheer variety courses mean.  You will always find something that fits with your interests.  The quality of the teaching staff is a great strength of the City Lit.  The CLFAC brings this group of practitioners together to contribute to a course which is so much more than the sum of its parts. 

Emma's video Seed Head Loop is showing at The London Group Open 2017 in both part 1 and part 2 this November and December 2017:

Part One: 8-17 November 2017 / Part Two: 22 November - 1 December 2017
The Cello Factory, 33-34 Cornwall Road, London SE1 8TJ, 14:00 - 18:00 (daily)