London, United Kingdom
Emma Witter is an artist that dreams with her hands and works to another time, where nothing is disposable and everything she touches might turn to gold. Working intuitively with found and rescued biomass – by-products of London’s restaurant industry or salvaged mud larking on the banks of the river Thames – her sculptures are sensational and beguiling. Witter breathes new life into lost things, and shows us value where we saw only waste. Her process is alchemical, transforming what has been discarded into what must be saved, and her art speaks to our contemporaneous notion of the sublime.
Born in 1989, she lives and works in London and holds a first-class honours degree in Performance Design from Central Saint Martins. On graduating, Witter won the ‘Seed Fund’ Award’ from the University of the Arts London – a grant to set up her own studio practice, followed by ‘Best New Business Award’ during UAL Enterprise Week.
Numerous exhibitions include solo shows ‘Bloom’ at Hix Art in 2018, ‘Remember You Must Die’ at Sarabande Foundation in 2019 and ‘A Moveable Feast’ for the Portman Estate in 2022. Emma is a former studio resident at Sarabande, the Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation, Xenia Creative Retreat in Hampshire and Selfridges in London.
Words by Nico Kos Earle
Part artist, part scientist, chef, sleuth, inventor, and all- around magician, Witter is fascinated by discarded objects and abandoned spaces. She transforms mud larked fragments of metal and crushed glass into mysterious nests and organic clusters. Ancient bones are decalcified using a kiln at extremely high temperatures, oysters are immersed in electrolytic baths with copper anodes, tiny pigs teeth are strung together with fine wires.
Castoffs and overlooked materials carry the texture, memories and secrets of their former functions. They remain recognizable as eggs, keys or shells, but they are repurposed into new structural cells. This dialogue with materials and their location creates a unique poetic language infused with autobiographical details. Witter's special alchemy elevates forgotten debris to precious treasure and prompts our unbridled imagination.
Words by Sophie Lachowsky
‘Emma’s work speaks to a wider anxiety about our ecological footprint and mass consumerism. By using the discarded and overlooked – chicken feet and eggshells – as building blocks for astonishingly beautiful but strange sculptures, she is showing us a little bit of universal magic. I notice an auburn curl on the nape of her neck echoed in the twist of copper wire – everything is connected. Instead of death, we find natural selection and reproduction.
For in truth all that is buried nourishes the future of things – we are all made of bone dust.’
Nico Kos for Artlyst