Between leaving his regional hometown of Toowoomba and moving to Hobart to attend art school, Troy Emery decided he wanted to study fashion. Then he discovered he didn’t.
Following his instincts, he dropped out of fashion school, but took his love of textiles and haberdashery with him. ‘I’d never really considered the possibility of regularly exhibiting art like this and being able to fund the next project through selling work, but it has managed to play out that way,’ Troy explains.
The artist’s Brunswick studio doubles as an ‘awkward craft materials’ armoury, filled with tassels, fringing, tinsel and pom poms – in fact, he once ordered 280,000 pom poms, and is still putting them to captivating use! ‘I think these decorative materials can become unsettling when used excessively,’ explains the artist, who has a penchant for the lurid colours of these kitch details.
Troy’s exhibition, Missionaries, is currently underway at Martin Browne Contemporary in Sydney. Twelve distinctive ‘faux taxidermy’ works make up the show, most of which have been created this year after a multi-year hiatus. ‘After a big breakup threw my life into disarray, this show really symbolises, for me, getting everything back in order,’ tells Troy. ‘I have a new studio and I several exhibitions lined up this year; I’m so excited to be back!’
The artist’s latest pieces are startlingly monochrome – with animal forms disappearing under solid black, or a long heavy pelt of pearlescent pink camouflage – in comparison to his earlier pieces, which were each dominated by a cacophony of colour and mesmerising patterns.
His work, however, is much deeper than a surface of quirky textures. Physically, through his use of unexpected materials, Troy tries to obscure recognisable forms, while conceptually, he works to provoke ideas about our historical relationship with animals, underpinned by our assumed position of authority in the natural world.
Exhibition-goers have been captivated by ‘Missionaries’ thus far, often gravitating to a particular piece that reminds them of their pet. Troy’s favourite piece is Pink Panther (don’t tell Bao-Bao, his British Shorthair). ‘For some reason it reminds me of a viral video about pink slime being used to make chicken nuggets… I think the piece is really weird; it’s something trying to hide, but then it’s bright pink!’ We can’t stop looking.
Troy is also working on an upcoming project at the Johnston Collection Museum in Melbourne and another at MARS gallery in July. Follow more on this website, here.