Creative People

Melbourne Artist Emma Coulter Reveals A Vibrant New Exhibition!

Emma Coulter’s artworks are all about creating a visual language with colour.

The Melbourne-based artist works across a mix of mediums, from paintings on canvas to sculpture and even public works big enough to take over the side of buildings across the city.

Using only nine colours from her limited spectrum, Emma creates grids and geometric sequences that are wonderfully abstract and eye-catching. And she has a new exhibition kicking off later this week!

Christina Karras

Melbourne-based artist Emma Coulter.

Her pieces feature a distinctive bold colour palette she’s developed over her career.

‘I have a self-contained studio space, on the outskirts of Melbourne in the Macedon Ranges, on Wurundjeri country. It includes a large painting studio, a separate room for spraying enamel paints, with a separate office, and a storage room,’ Emma says.

She says working with a limited colour spectrum of up to nine colours enables her the freedom to work across many mediums.

Emma typically works across several things at once in the studio.

Offcuts of painters tape splashed with colour.

‘My creative process involves the exhaustive testing of ideas before the materialisation of anything tangible,’ Emma says.

‘The end result – what you see — may seem incredibly simple, though this is achieved through the progression of laborious elimination.’

Her new exhibition, ‘Infinite Systems’ opens at James Makin Gallery this week.

‘Whilst some of the works that I am showing have been completed more recently, I have been developing the skills and ideas for this body of work over many years. Bringing everything together is always exciting.’

Christina Karras
14th of June 2023

Like many artists, Emma Coulter says it took her a while to find her voice. After she graduated high school in Brisbane, she studied a Bachelor of Visual Arts and a Bachelor of Built Environment — which she describes as being creative, like architecture, but technical, like engineering.

She was always practicing and exhibiting painting on the side as a passion project. But it wasn’t until she moved to Melbourne and decided to study a masters degree at the Victorian College of the Arts (almost 15 years after her undergraduate!) that it all started to come together.

‘I recently told a friend that studying there was like a holiday for me,’ Emma says. ‘Because working full-time on my practice was a gift, and something that I had never really had the opportunity to do before in that critical, yet supported, environment.’

This is when she started the first of her ongoing ‘spatial deconstruction’ works, using bold, bright and neon colours to create sprawling geometric sequences and patterns. Sometimes these are on canvases, sculptures, or large-scale public art commissions that you might have seen across the city — including a mural for Metro Tunnel that wrapped the buildings along Swanston Street and Flinders Lane, spanning more than 100 metres long!

She divides her time between making ‘site-specific paintings’ from her studio in the Macedon Ranges and her larger public art projects, in addition to ‘project managing’ her household and two children. But whether the art pieces are big or small, they always catch your eye.

‘Colour is definitely the central idea in my work that connects my almost 20 years of practice,’ she adds.

‘I work with a limited colour spectrum of up to nine colours, this enables me the freedom to work across mediums. With the colours being set, it allows me to experiment with bigger ideas across my whole practice.’

Her new exhibition, ‘Infinite Systems’, is an overview of her practice so far, revealing metal sculptures she’s been working on since 2020 and a new site-specific ‘spatial deconstruction’ work. It’s a showcase of what Emma does best: creating intriguing worlds of colour.

See ‘Infinite Systems’ at James Makin Gallery from June 15-July 2. 

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