Emma Bass brings her beautiful botanical artwork to Napier


Emma Bass brings her beautiful botanical artwork to Napier
Emma Bass is bringing her elegant floral portraits to Napier for the first time.

The Auckland-based artist’s solo exhibition at Boyd-Dunlop Gallery opens on Valentine’s Day, appropriate given the show is titled LOVE.

We spoke to Bass about what visitors can expect from her show, and also asked about her newly-released puzzle which she created in lockdown.

How did this exhibition come about and what can we expect from it?

The exhibition started from an invitation by Richard Boyd-Dunlop, who owns and operates a spacious gallery in central Napier. You can expect to see my re-interpretations of Dutch floral still life paintings from the 1600s, popular works from my ongoing series “floral portraits” and also some new directions.

There are a number of new pieces including parts of a new series called “Terra Firma” in which I experiment with rock and flower juxtapositions and certain metaphorical associations around various aspects of love – the exhibition’s theme.

What made you want to dedicate a show to ‘love’?

Recently I engaged in a series of conversations with a friend about what the essence of my work actually is.

As both an artist and a human being it is sometimes difficult to be objective about this; is my work about flowers, or about beauty, or is it about natural forms in a dynamic balance with the artificial? It is truly about all of these things, but I settled on “love” as the essence of it because it is the force that animates everything I do.

Love motivated me as a nurse who cared for others, infuses my work as a parent and my romantic and platonic relationships. The sharing of love is what I hope to offer my audience through my work. The dimensions of love as defined by the Greeks are rich, ranging from affection and friendship to eroticism to self-love and love for fellow humans, but all are animated through relationship.

What made you interested in holding a retrospective exhibition?

While it’s a bit early to call it a true retrospective (I like to believe my best days are in front of me) I was immediately excited to show in Napier as I have not exhibited there previously.

I am always keen to share my work with new audiences and communities, so for this reason, Richard and I settled on a sort of mini-retrospective of my work to date; so people could see the range of what I’ve done as well as new directions.

What do you hope visitors will take away from seeing the progression of your work?

I would love visitors to feel the spirit of my work, the energy I bring to it and the sense of hope I seek to communicate.

I have endured some dark times in my life, as we all do, but it’s very important that we understand that this will pass. When someone tells me that my work has lifted their spirits, despite a personal setback or tragedy, this encourages me in a very profound way.

In terms of the progression of my work, I hope visitors will see a consistent common vision — my desire to share love — seen through a variety of visually interesting and uplifting compositional, historical and metaphorical lenses.

What inspired you to make a puzzle?

When Covid-19 and the lockdowns arrived, puzzles began to enjoy a sort of renaissance. For me this speaks to the pandemic’s silver lining; the re-prioritisation of time at home with family and friends, time away from screens and fun with those we love.

I would like my puzzles to be part of gatherings and to be gifts that bring pleasure to people. I have made an effort to create a puzzle that is a beautiful thing in its own right and a different-yet-related aspect of my work for people’s homes.


14 February – 9 March, 2021

Boyd-Dunlop Gallery, Napier


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