Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

An artist's affliction: Emma Stibbon in conversation

I came to the interview with Emma Stibbon as a complete outsider: I’d never heard of her, never seen her work. My only preparation was an intriguing paragraph in the Cultural Exchanges booklet. I left the event knowing more about Stibbon and her work than I do about Van Gogh. 

I left that talk a fan.

The set-up was simple: Stibbon and Theo Miller, her interviewer, sat at a small table at the front of the lecture hall, with just a table lamp for light. Overhead, a PowerPoint looped through a selection of photos of Stibbon and her artwork. It was simple, open, and intimate: a feeling mirrored in Stibbon’s speech and the warmth with which she answered Miller’s questions.

 Many of the early questions focused on Stibbon’s journeys around the world to study landscapes for her art: Rome, Berlin, Hawaii, and even Antarctica have made appearances in her striking monochrome artworks.

 More than once, an image would appear just as she was talking about somewhere she’d been or something she’d seen. A photo of Stibbon sketching the bleak Antarctic on a tiny boat showed up just seconds after she made an offhand comment about drawing in miserable cold places.

Honest and open, she invited us to enter her world, and made a genuine impression on me and many others. Of everything she said, though, nothing rang so true as her answer to Miller's question on work-life balance:
“It’s a compulsion, or even an affliction, to be an artist.”

Ben Woore

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