Emma Powell - The Open College of the Arts

Emma Powell

As well as being a tutor at OCA I am a Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design & Illustration (specialising in illustration, bookmaking, printmaking and paper-crafts) at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. I really enjoy teaching and I am particularly interested in encouraging an experimental and visual risk-taking approach to the development of students’ visual practice. I strongly believe that the journey is as important as the final piece. I have taught art and design at HE level for over 20 years and have assessed over 2000 students.

I have a PhD in Sustainable Design (2009) that investigated the use of rejectamenta (“things thrown away” – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) by selected contemporary artists and designers. The intent of the PhD research was to challenge preconceptions about the use of waste materials. It shows (through a variety of examples of contemporary creative practice) that items that initially hold negative value can be transformed, through the creative process, to objects that have a positive aesthetic value. I love using rejectamenta as an inspiration for my own visual work.

I am the co-founder and co-curator of we love your books. This is a collaborative venture that I run with book artist Melanie Bush. We have curated a yearly, open, experimental books exhibition since 2005. In these themed exhibitions we show-case inventive book structures, created by book artists and students, from around the World. More information can be found at www.weloveyourbooks.com. If you think your work meets our entry criteria then please submit a book to us on our current theme.

My current visual work is underpinned by my PhD research and I apply the principles of sustainable design to as many aspects of my practice as I can. I am particularly interested in greener methods of printmaking and image making. I love to combine different processes in my book-works and prints and I am drawn to the Japanese concept of wabi sabi (erosion/accretion), colour, circles, text and texture. Sometimes my work can be purely aesthetic but often it communicates a message and / or tackles difficult subject matter.

When I am not teaching or creating stuff I can be found either on a rented plot of land on an organic smallholding or, on the back of a tandem cycling around Leicestershire or Northumberland / The Borders. I also spend time baking vegan cakes and biscuits!



emma powell