Intricate dresses full of ‘different worlds’
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’’.