The Abominable Wasteman

Emilie Mason

“Beauty has always been a complex beast. It is both difficult to define and ubiquitous.”  (Patrick Potter from the book Beauty in Decay)

Emilie says: “My final textile art piece is called ‘The Abominable Waste-Man’. The project looks at an individual persons contribution to non-recyclable waste to provoke the general public to consider their own. I also want to develop my piece from embodiment art and put it into a performance setting, creating a protest/dance piece in general, public setting.”

Emilie Mason is an artist and a collector, using her work as a basis to display the thread bundles, crisp packets, nails, trinkets, and anything else that her magpie mentality takes a shining to. A budding artist specialising in everything alternate and ornate, her work compiles less than valuable oddities with hand embroidery techniques to create a stunning dichotomy between the throw-away and the collectable. Her work embodies a distinguished dance between concept and creation, applying an unconventional twist to an ancient, traditional craft and bringing sustainability and innovation to the world of hand embroidery.

‘The Abominable Wasteman’ is a social commentary discussing a huge, present, visceral issue: the planet. The drive for this project is to raise awareness of an individual contribution of non-recyclable waste, resulting in landfills and environmental damage. Emilie’s project reflects on her as a contributor to this problem, meaning the whole making process is intensely personal. She has collected her own rubbish output and made it central to her embroidery. The end piece will be a creature, a literal creation of the monstrous waste she’s produced provoking viewers to consider their own ‘Abominable Wastemen’. Her project is set to develop further; she doesn’t only want to provoke these thoughts but take action to enforce them. How can she help people reduce and repurpose non-recyclable waste?

The materials Emilie uses, and how she responds to them, are tools used to visualise her ideas and express her concepts. This means the nature of her work is very personal, an emotive response to the concept flows through the creation of the work. Emilie’s initial, ineffable attraction to materials lies within a contrast. Specifically, the opposing quality of two resources, altering the hierarchy of materials by marrying unrecyclable waste with the expensive finishes of Goldwork and embellishment; an alchemist transforming mundane, discarded rubbish into something with value. Her ability to see past the conventions of fabric and thread has allowed her to push these boundaries, creating her own alternatives and defining her practice.

Inspirations for Emilie’s work has come from The National Geographic, ‘The Gropius Bau exhibition – Garden of Earthly Delights’; the V&A London exhibition, ‘Tim Walker: Wonderful Things’; Yinka Shonibare’s artwork, ‘Refugee Astronaut’; artist, Daisy Collingridge; artist, Daniel Lismore; Nick Cave’s collection of Sound Suits.

Emilie is a graduate from the Royal School of Needlework, where she was awarded The Janet Churm bursary award to support her through her studies. Whilst studying, she had work exhibited in the Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston, and contributed her skills to artist Susan Aldworth’s ‘Out of the Blue’ exhibition in the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle. She also extended her knowledge during two internships, the first with Zandra Rhodes, London, and the second with M Industry, London. She has already taken her skills into the industry and worked as a Freelance Hand Embroiderer for E.Tautz, Ralph & Russo and Alexander McQueen.

Emilie finishes with: “Following my degree I would like to involve myself in work with artist/designer collectives. Whether this be focusing on performance art, textile art, sustainable art or fashion or a combination of it all. I would like to surround myself with like-minded creatives who I can learn from and who can learn from me. I also want to further my project from an art piece into something more commercial. Creating personalised accessories out of someone’s own non-recyclable waste could be somewhere to start. To do this I think I need to develop my skills further with the materials, and also either embark on a Masters or training in bags, shoes etc., so that I can understand how my work can bond with these formats.”

You can follow Emilie on her Instagram page.


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