Creative People

Interview · Emily Ferretti

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
14th of June 2013

‘Jungle Galaxy’, oil on linen, 180 x 150 cm, 2013 by Emily Ferretti for her current show, ‘Paint Everyday’, at Sophie Gannon Gallery in Melbourne.

Emily Ferretti‘s current show, ‘Paint Everyday’, at Sophie Gannon Gallery in Melbourne.

Emily Ferretti painting in her Northcote studio earlier this week.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Emily’s paint table.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.  (I really love this shot!)

Emily in the studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

‘Imaginary Plants (Blue Bell)’, oil on linen, 51 x 41 cm, 2013 by Emily Ferretti for her current show, ‘Paint Everyday’, at Sophie Gannon Gallery.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Emily shows us her beautiful new book entitled ‘Everyday‘, published by the talented team at Perimeter Editions.  It’s $22.00 and available online or at Sophie Gannon Gallery.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Emily chats with us at her Northcote Studio earlier this week.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Ok, before I get started, and you inevitably fall headfirst in love with Emily Ferretti‘s stunning new paintings, let it be known – many of the beautiful works pictured here for Emily’s current show at Sophie Gannon Gallery are already sold.  Not ALL but most.  If it’s any consolation, I’m  kicking myself too!   It’s only been up for a week… but it’s such a truly special body of work, I’m not surprised this show has captured so many hearts already!  The only remedy of course is to get on Sophie Gannon’s mailing list ASAP for future shows, people!  It’s the only way.

Though I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time, I met Emily in person for the first time earlier this week.  It was one of those ‘how has it taken so long to meet you’ moments.  Sean Fennessy and I popped in to visit Emily in Northcote, where she works from a beautiful light-filled studio, thick with the smell of oil paint, and full of amazing paintings in progress.  The whole space seemed to be colour co-ordinated in Emily’s signature palette of deep blues and emerald greens.  Even the jumble of mess on the studio floor was photogenic. It was magic. The BEST part of my job hands down is visiting creative people in their element like this.  Nothing gives me more of a buzz than being surrounded by beautiful artwork and intense creative energy – and chatting in person to the talented maker behind the work, learning first hand what makes them tick.

Emily is not just immensely talented, she’s also so lovely to be around.  There’s a calmness to her – a sense of quiet control.  As she explained during our visit, she’s very aware of her pace in making new works – she doesn’t rush the creation of new paintings, preferring to work towards one major body of work each year.  This sense of pace seems evident in all that she does.  She’s thoughtful and quite measured when discussing her work, but she’s also very chatty and friendly and refreshingly matter of fact.  She tells it like it is.  She wasn’t secretive or self conscious about sharing her unfinished works with us.  There is no art world ‘smoke and mirrors’ act going on with Emily Ferretti.  She’s the real deal.  I like her a lot.

Emily completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2006, and has been exhibiting annually with Sophie Gannon Gallery since 2008. Her current show, entitled ‘Paint Everyday’ is inspired by a mix of autobiographical and imaginary scenes. Tabletops, jungle scenes, beaded doorways, rugs and pools all make their way into this exhibition. The show includes oil paintings on canvas, works on paper, small still life works and a landscape scene that is 3.6 metres wide – Emily’s largest painting to date!

Last week Emily also released her first book, Everyday, published by the talented team at Perimeter Editions.  It features many of the paintings she has completed this year, and is available online or at Sophie Gannon Gallery.  It’s $22.00 which is a ridiculous bargain.

In any case, if you’re in Melbourne, you really must check out the show before it ends on June 29th!  Highly recommend.

Paint Everyday by Emily Ferreti
Open now until 29th June
Sophie Gannon Gallery 
2 Albert Street
Richmond, VIC

Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming a fine artist, and to creating the style of work you are currently making?

I grew up in country Victoria on a small farm where most of my early days were spent tinkering away with bits of wood and other found objects in the shed. My parents both really encouraged my sister and I to value creativity. Later in my schooling I was drawn to doing fine arts because of the very appealing idea of a studio practice and being able to go somewhere every day to make tangible things; the studio would later replace the shed from my childhood.

In university I tried a lot of mediums but found oil painting to be the one I thought was most versatile, intuitive and was best able to communicate the feeling I wanted to portray in my images. I have stuck with it ever since.

How would you describe your work?

Contemporary still life and fragmentary scenes from the imagination.

One of Emily’s paintings hanging in her Northcote studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.
What can we expect to see in your new exhibition ‘Paint Everyday’ at Sophie Gannon Gallery in Melbourne? What has inspired this body of work?

I usually take at least a year to produce a large body of work. I never start with a rigid theme or subject. I prefer to keep the process open, and it is important that every picture feels like it can stand alone. It’s very exciting for me to see images start to speak to each other without me forcing a deliberate connection.

Paint Everyday is quite a diverse show. It’s imagery is made from a mixture of the autobiographical and the imaginary. Tabletops, intricate jungle scenes, beaded doorways and pools all make their way into this exhibition. The show ranges from quite small still life works to a landscape scene that is 3.6 metres wide, my largest painting to date! I have been looking at a lot of American folk art from the early twentieth century, and contemporary still life painting. Colour is a major part of my practice and blues and greens feature prominently in this show.

‘Table Top (Home)’, oil on linen, 122 x 153 cm, 2013 by Emily Ferretti for her current show, ‘Paint Everyday’, at Sophie Gannon Gallery in Melbourne.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.
Can you give us a little insight into your process? What materials do you use? Is each work pre-planned or created very intuitively? Do you work on multiple canvases at one time?

I work in the studio full-time. I usually have about three paintings going at once, all at different stages. For each one, the first layer is done quite quickly. After that I slow down and take my time, just looking at the work and trying to work out what it needs to get to a more resolved place. I often think making my images feels a bit like a dance; it can be quite physical as I brush paint on then wipe it off. It’s a constant trial-and-error process and I go through lots of rags!

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

I am an early bird. I usually get up by 7.00am and start with a bit of exercise, usually a run. Then an hour on the computer catching up on emails. I get to the studio around 9.30am, put on Radio National and settle in. With fresh eyes I can usually get a clear insight into what to start working on first. There is always a spot in the picture that needs work. This dictates what happens in the studio for the day.

I work in blocks of around two hours and have small breaks in between. In the break times I might ring a friend on the phone or talk with buddies in the studio. Usually I get to a point at the end of the day when I have no concentration span left and that’s when I usually go home. I almost never work at night. I prefer to make work during the day, under natural light.

Emily’s desk. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
Can you list for us 5 resources across any media that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?

Art books – I am always perusing my favourite artists.

Podcasts – I’ve listened to every Radiolab episode there is, and love any science and fact show.

Local radio and audio books – I listen to Radio National every day. Being in the studio all day can sometimes get a bit lonely. I find radio a nice way to feel a sense of attachment to the world.

Blogs – For me blogs are a great way to come across imagery and widen my visual radar.

Youtube interviews – I find interviews on Youtube or other websites very inspirational. I especially enjoy listening to actors and sports people talking about how they prepare. I find these a great motivating tool.

Work in progress in Emily’s studio. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
Which other local artists, designers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?

I have a lot of very inspiring friends that are dedicated to their practices and work very hard. It would be unfair to name just a few! I am always so proud and inspired by anyone that has devotion to there chosen field or interest.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

Getting an art book published by Perimeter Editions that launched last week. I am very honoured and excited to have them out in the world.

Emily’s beautiful new book entitled ‘Everyday‘, published by the talented team at Perimeter Editions.  It’s $22.00 and available online here or at Sophie Gannon Gallery.
What would be your dream project?

To have a studio in New York City, and visit the American Folk Art Museum.

What are you looking forward to?

Summer coming around again.


Your favorite Melbourne neighborhood and why?

North Fitzroy without a doubt. It was the first suburb I ever moved to from the country and I lived there for 10 years in a typical run down minor’s cottage, around the corner from the Edinburgh Gardens. I would go there every morning and evening. Even though I no longer live in North Fitzroy, I often return to the gardens. I never get bored of walking through the old oaks and pines. I will always feel at home in North Fitzroy.

Where do you shop in Melbourne for the tools of your trade?

I go to a few different places for different products. Mostly I go to Fitzroy Stretchers in Brunswick for all my stretchers and art supplies and I go to Chapman & Bailey in Abbotsford for my linens.

Work in progress in Emily’s studio.  Photo – Sean Fennessy.
Where / what was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

At my parents place! Both my mum and sister are superb cooks. They make hearty healthy meals that I get to enjoy every Sunday night at family dinner.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Running with my partner along Merri Creek or around the Edinburgh Gardens, then off to the studio.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

A cocktail called Northside from Long Play. Also The Junk Company.

Creative mess is the best kind of mess. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Similar Stories

Recent Creative People