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Emma Coulter · Trace Patterns


When we last featured Emma Coulter, in 2011, she was an emerging artist launching her ‘make or break’ exhibition: shedding skin. She’s come a long way since then, having secured gallery representation, undertaken a Masters of Contemporary Art at the VCA, and exhibited extensively over the past 5 years.

Today we take a look at trace patterns, Emma’s latest exhibition of painting, scupture and installation. This show, exploring the use of architectural space and pattern, is on now at Palmer Art Projects in Sydney.

16th February, 2017
Elle Murrell
Thursday 16th February 2017

The medium or the message? For Emma Coulter, it’s an easy choice. ‘What is most important to me are the conceptual ideas that I’m exploring, rather than how these ideas manifest physically,’ says the UK-born Melbourne-based artist. While colour and pattern are recognisably key to Emma’s current exhibition trace patterns, she also highlights themes of reflection, architecture, and intervention as being intertwined at its crux.

trace patterns was developed over the past 18 months, and has coincided with Emma’s Master of Contemporary Art study at The Victorian College of the Arts, as well as a period of investing more time in her practice. ‘I think my work has come into a space, where I am engaging with all parts of my brain,’ says Emma, who works from her studio in Kyneton. ‘I’ve taken the time to research my subject matter and ideas more thoroughly, as well as obtain critical input from others, and as a result I think my practice has grown.’

Encompassing painting, sculpture and spatial practice, the new body of work investigates colour as an idea, and even a language, beyond the use of paint and brush strokes. Emma’s pieces are intended to transform, construct and alter environments. In doing so she seeks to challenge boundaries, both physical and otherwise, as well as navigate between extremes of ‘the high and the low, history and currency, and the intellectual and the ornamental’.

Although Emma’s output is rigorously considered, it’s not intended to be exclusive. ‘Through my persistent use of colour I hope to provide a ‘meeting place’, an accessible space where those with knowledge about art can intellectualise, but also as an antithesis, those without this knowledge can have an experiential interaction with my work,’ she explains. Emma has dreams to one day create a large scale public art commission, where more and more people may have a chance to contemplate colour in a new light!

trace patterns by Emma Coulter
February 8 to March 4
Palmer Art Projects
Sydney, NSW

To see more of Emma Coulter’s work, visit her website here.

From the artist’s current Sydney exhibition. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email