In­tri­cate dresses full of ‘dif­fer­ent worlds’

Nelson Mail - - Culture - Carly Gooch

Cre­ative flair is some­thing that Emma Mon­crieff has in bun­dles. She’s been heav­ily in­volved in World of Wear­ableArt, she has sculpted for Weta Work­shop, and she has been a makeup artist for film – all ex­pe­ri­ences she cred­its for in­spir­ing her lat­est project.

Mon­crieff has just opened her lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion, Dress Se­ries 1, fea­tur­ing in­tri­cate paint­ings of dresses dec­o­rated with myth­i­cal crea­tures, moths and wildlife.

She de­scribes each dress as ‘‘a dif­fer­ent world’’, largely in­flu­enced by her work on WOW.

‘‘I kind of liken it to em­broi­der­ing with paint.’’

Mon­crieff says the im­ages took form with ‘‘hun­dreds and thou­sands of tiny brush strokes’’. It’s no won­der each piece on a 1200-mil­lime­tre x 900mm can­vas took months.

‘‘These paint­ings have been on­go­ing for the last two years.’’

And she promises that it is ‘‘just the start’’, with the name of her ex­hi­bi­tion giv­ing away that there is more to come.

Out in her work­shop, Mon­crieff not only lets her past guide her with ev­ery flick of the brush, she also care­fully chooses the sound­track in her sanc­tu­ary to stim­u­late her cre­ative juices.

Help­ing to put to­gether mu­sic for WOW awards shows through­out the years has given her ac­cess to ‘‘amaz­ing pieces’’, so she is ‘‘con­stantly lis­ten­ing to beau­ti­ful, in­spir­ing mu­sic’’.

‘‘I think it re­ally re­flects in the rhythm of some of the pat­terns on the dresses. Some of them have quite a dance-like qual­ity.’’

There’s no Adele or Fleet­wood Mac on Mon­crieff’s set list – it’s clas­si­cal, or world mu­sic, or Chi­nese singers.

‘‘It def­i­nitely af­fects the depth of mean­ing when I paint, and there’s a lot of feel­ing that goes into my pieces. The mu­sic re­ally sets the scene for that.’’

She said she be­came quite at­tached to ev­ery piece af­ter putting so much of her­self into them and spend­ing so much time on each dress – none of them more so than Night Moth, which she said was a ‘‘real in­cred­i­ble long jour­ney’’.

‘‘Na­ture’s just the most in­cred­i­ble artist. There’s so much de­tail in a wing of a moth, and the colour vari­a­tions are stun­ning, so that was an in­cred­i­ble chal­lenge. That one I’ll be keep­ing.

‘‘I re­ally want to keep all of them. It’s quite aw­ful to think I’m go­ing to put them up for sale.’’

But like much of her artis­tic projects, they al­ways seem to find the per­fect home.

One of Mon­crieff’s most mem­o­rable buy­ers was Scot­tish co­me­dian Billy Con­nolly. He bought a piece from a hu­mor­ous sky­scraper sculp­ture se­ries with ‘‘strange scenes’’ atop each build­ing, in­clud­ing a woman waltzing with her dog, and a per­son in a boat go­ing some­where ‘‘or nowhere’’.

‘‘The one that Billy Con­nolly bought was called Pre­car­i­ous Phil goes fly­ing, and it was a lit­tle naked man with a fly­ing hel­met and gog­gles about to jump off the top of the build­ing.

‘‘I think it must have tick­led his sense of hu­mour.’’

Mon­crieff may have ‘‘mil­lions of ideas’’ up her sleeve for sculpt­ing, but this is tak­ing a back seat while she im­merses her­self in the dresses.

Dress Se­ries 1 is fea­tured at Nel­son City Framers, Hal­i­fax St, Nel­son and will be ex­hib­ited un­til De­cem­ber 3.


Emma Mon­crieff says the paint­ings in her lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion, Dress Se­ries 1, were heav­ily in­flu­enced by her work with World of Wear­ableArt.

Mon­crieff says cre­at­ing Night Moth, one of the works in her Dress Se­ries 1 ex­hi­bi­tion, was ‘‘an in­cred­i­ble chal­lenge’’.

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