CRAFT CUBED: INTERVIEW WITH TROY EMERY

Troy Emery is an artist based in Melbourne and has an art practice encompassing sculpture, painting, drawing, and embroidery. He refers to his sculptures as ‘fake taxidermy’ because they mimic the process of taxidermy without actually producing a real result. The particular animals he chooses to work with fall between being exotic and easily recognisable. 

To create our key representational imagery for this year's Craft Cubed Festival, Troy's artwork was the key inspiration for Annette Wagner.

Gemma Jones (Festival Manager) caught up with Troy to talk about his artwork and practise.

What can people expect to see in your exhibition at Craft for Craft Cubed?

My work looks at our relationship with animals by creating ‘fake taxidermy’ out of rainbow and metallic textiles draped over animal forms. I use materials such as pompoms, tassels, tinsel, and yarn to intentionally confuse traditional sculpture with handicrafts.

For my exhibition at Craft I will be exhibiting new works. A range of luridly colourful somewhat amorphous shapes that will take over the space across a couple of dioramas.

I’ve heard you talk about animals and their relationship to home-spaces, can you expand on this a little?

 Troy Emery,  pink lump,  2018,   polyrethane ,  polyester tassels, glue, pins. Styling and Photography by Annette Wagner

Troy Emery, pink lump, 2018, polyrethane, polyester tassels, glue, pins. Styling and Photography by Annette Wagner

I think people project a lot onto animals. They are still beasts of burden, although now they carry all our anxieties about companionship, family, environmental fragility, diet, nutrition, ethics. One idea, specifically from John Berger’s Why Look at Animals, is that pets exist in the home with a kind of dual role as both members of the family, and pieces of furniture. The ‘designer pet’ becomes a fashion statement. Animals are bred to look more and more extreme, an example being the purebred pet. Maybe my works are extreme designer pets, a breeding program completely out of control.

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

My work is ‘handmade’, although I really enjoy working with mass produced materials, like pompoms, sequins, and tinsel. I’m fascinated by the thought of factories producing things like pompoms en masse, available in dozens of colours, shipped all over the world for people to take home and incorporate into their projects. I think using colourful materials that are usually used children’s craft and taking those and using them in excessive amounts for my ‘serious’ artworks is funny. There are definitely ideas of different values placed alongside materials and the handmade in both the art world and the craft world. I like throwing that out the window.

I really enjoy the process of making my work, from workshopping ideas, collecting materials, assembling the sculpture, and having a finished artwork at the end. My work can be labour intensive with a lot of the textiles I use all being pinned together by hand. Larger works can take weeks to finish.

What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?

It’s important to always be working on something. “Make more!” as my undergraduate sculpture lecturer would tell every single one of his students.

 What’s next for you?

A few more exhibitions planned this year. A solo exhibition at Ararat Regional Art Gallery, and group exhibitions in Bathurst, Brisbane, and Hawkesbury.

I have been painting too, which is a great way to take a bit of a break from the 3D work. Maybe I’ll exhibit them alongside my sculpture, maybe they will be a standalone thing but I’m having fun with it. That’s the most important part.