Sculpture artist Emma Witter creates beautiful artworks from the slightly less conventional material of small animal bones.
That’s right. Small animal bones.
The sculptures and installations are created from hundreds of bones salvaged mainly from Emma’s own cooking. She then meticulously cleans, bleaches, and categorises each bone before creating her pieces.
Emma is a old friend of Curious Productions, having previously collaborated on the delightfully crunchy project, Crisp Flowers, a unique floral arrangement created entirely from crisps and photographed in the Dutch Masters style.
Below, Emma speaks to us about becoming Hix Art’s first Artist in Residence, her influences and not least, where her unusual interest in using animal bones in the name of art originated from.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
I was always going to do something creative for sure. I loved nature and thought I was going to be a gardener, or mix perfume, or study insects. When I was a kid I wanted to be an archeologist or a paleontologist – I wanted to dig up remains and discover special treasure.
Who or what was your childhood inspiration?
I have this amazing great aunt and uncle whose house and long twisting garden I’d love to visit. He played percussion in a folk band and she made little stained glass windows. They were great at drawing, and my sister and I used to spend hours with them in their conservatory making pictures.
What inspires you now?
Other artists inspire me – old and new – and I go and look at shows as much as I can. When I see something good it makes me feel refreshed and excited and wanting to make some new work. I love sculptural / assemblage work by Eileen Agar, Marcin Rusak, Phoebe Cummings, Susie Macmurray, Kate McGuire, Ken Price, Ron Nagle …
How did your interest in creating sculptures with bones start?
Quite passively actually – I had a general interest in creating sculptures out of food, and then started making some tests out of bones I had collected from meals. I held on to them because I thought the shapes were so soft and beautiful and it felt like a shame to throw them away. Then I gradually became more obsessed with the material.
What would be your ideal commission?
I would love to do something very site specific and create bone flowers, plants and nests which would inhabit corners of the room, grow out from the walls and twist around the pipe work.
Who is your hero?
Sounds cheesy but it’s my Mum. She’s worked for the last 20 years with severely special needs children and for that I think she’s being a hero every single day.
What piece/pieces do you wish you’d created?
I get a huge pang of jealousy over the Dali Menagere Cutlery set. It is six pieces comprising of two forks, two knives and two enameled spoons. Specifically and wonderfully named:
Fourchette 4 dents à manche poisson (Four tooth fork with a fish handle)
Fourchette-éléphant 3 dents (Elephant fork with three teeth)
Couteau escargot aux larmes (Snail knife with tears)
Cocteau feuille (leaf knife)
Petite cuillère-artichaut (small artichoke spoon)
Cuillère-artichaut (artichoke spoon)
How did you feel when you were invited to be Hix Art’s first Artist in Residence?
Absolutely thrilled! I’d had this in mind for a long time as something I really wanted to do. I was also really looking forward to having a three month project where my mind was only on one outcome – it felt very cleansing on my hectic brain.
What are you most grateful for?
Flukey, unexpected meetings with fantastic people and stimulating friendships.