Thirty paintings donated by East Oxford artist Emma Davis will go on permanent display in the Silver Star Unit of the Women’s Centre at the John Radcliffe hospital on 25th April. Emma donated the pictures as a thank you for the support they offered a close family member at a difficult time.
The pictures which show modern floral arrangements are bright and colourful. ‘I hope they’ll lift the spirits of the people using the centre which provides special care for mothers with medical complications during pregnancy,’ she explains, ‘and remind them not just of the joy of life but also of the surprising resilience of the most delicate things in nature.
Emma previously donated a series of 100 dogs paintings to the JR Children’s Hospital where her daughter was cared for when she became ill with a rare form of tuberculosis.
Emma’s art can also be seen next month (4th-12th May) as she opens her Rectory Road garden studio to visitors as part of Oxfordshire Artweeks. In this two-storey outbuilding behind an archetypal Victorian terrace Emma discovered a surprising series of six stained glass windows dating back a hundred years. ‘We found murals beneath the wallpaper too – scenes of Oxford for example,’ she exclaims. Fascinated to find out who had painted them, Emma investigated the previous occupants and discovered that ‘decorative house painter’ called Pimm was recorded at the address in 1901. ‘I’d love to know find out more about his work if there’s anyone with an interest in local history can shed any light on him,’ she asks.
Emma now uses the upper storey of the garden building as her studio, painting alongside these extraordinary windows which cast colours into her working space. It’s the perfect ambience as Emma’s paintings, many of which are abstract, are all about colour. ‘I find the best paintings come from playing with and exploring the use of colour,’ says Emma. ‘Putting unexpected colours against each other so there’s a contrast, a discordance even, can have spectacular results because they can bring each other to life.’
The room below Emma’s studio serves as inspiration for her unusual and charming still-lifes – the neat shelves are packed with memorabilia from her childhood and characters she’s gathered since – from Playmobil characters to a four-foot ET! ‘I was shy but cheeky child,’ says Emma, ‘an only child, and so I absolutely loved toys and would lose myself in their adventures, and painting is like that for me today. A paintbrush makes me bold and courageous!’
Another selection of Emma’s art will be on show in the Cloister Gallery of St John the Evalngelist, Iffley Road, during the first week of the Artweeks festival (4th-27th May).
You can read more about Emma's artist studio here or in the downloadable pdf below.