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Emma Witter on why she turns discarded animal bones into intricate botanical sculptures

Emma Witter on why she turns discarded animal bones into intricate botanical sculptures

Emma Witter. Image credit: Pete Woodhead British artist Emma Witter uses a very different kind of medium. She collects and breathes new life into animal bones to create intricate sculptures of flowers, leaves and other natural objects. Based in London, originally from Hertfordshire, she has just enjoyed a twelve-month residency at the prestigious Sarabande – the organisation founded by fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen CBE in 2007. Her botanical forms are symbolic and emotionally loaded, and she hopes to dispel the macabre association of bones and instead highlight the lightness and beauty of the material. With heavy references to 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish painters who used the flower as a symbol of life and its fragility, the delicateness and beauty of Witter’s sculptures has won her numerous awards and global attention. We spoke to Witter about this and more. Why the fascination with bones? I just think they’re such beautiful objects. I love the gently curved forms, the symmetry, how they are so lightweight and yet immensely strong. I remember first having oxtail stew where the bones were whole, and marvelling at their beautiful, floral shape. They’re very much like orchids. I felt uneasy throwing these objects in the bin and started to keep hold of them, researching how to preserve them. They are so widely available as a byproduct, and I think a surprising and overlooked material resource for sculpture. What would you say are your influences? I feel very inspired by artists and designers who are really dedicated to their materials. I’m quite obsessed at the moment with Fernando Laposse and how he is breaking down the fibres from different plants, like Cacti and corn husks, and creating new woven textures to be used for design objects. Grant Gibson presents a really good podcast […]

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