Showcase: Emily Silk

‘Genesis of the Unknown Woman’

I am an interdisciplinary artist but primarily a painter working with acrylics and supporting experimental materials. I am also currently studying graphic design and utilise drawing, watercolour and intuitive creative processes to inspire and ground my art practice as a whole.

Interdisciplinary Artist/Painter

This collection of works is precisely that, a collection of works, not an explicit series. They inform and understand one another. They are representative of a unique creative period for me, exploring new frontiers conceptually. I have been fortunate enough to find significant mentors and muses in the past twelve months, these works are illustrative of now inextricable people and experiences. I am both yelling at and soothing myself, experimenting with visual comprehension of thought.

Through recurring themes of femininity, surrealism and quasi-catholicism I conjure up eccentric, energetic and often idiosyncratic visual worlds, as a solace from my ordinary self. My artistic practice is freeing, through it I find power, through it I can finally listen to myself.

As an artist I value mark making, and how several dabs of paint can construct an image. My work is very painterly, and once you begin to notice individual dab upon dab, the image unravels. I am constantly exploring how to manipulate and deconstruct that act, in order to create a story I want to tell myself visually. I don’t think my version of the story is necessarily important to my audience’s experience of the work, rather, I want to imply notions, nods to and inferences, woven through acrylic tapestry. 

Sitiō (Potential acquisition)

(90x120cm), 2023, acrylic and soft pastel on canvas

‘Sitiō’, Latin, meaning to thirst. One of the seven sayings of Christ as he died strung upon a cross. His final being ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’. While I am not religious, I find that Christianity has permeated most of my life and in untethering myself from it, it has become a greater source of inspiration. By deconstructing this act of ‘thirst’ conceptually as it relates to the spirit, I have appropriated biblical themes in ‘Sitiō’ to communicate personal struggles with mental health. 

‘I am the beginning and ending of everything. I am the snake that eats itself’, I wrote in a journal entry in January of this year. 

A flying pig roasts upon a spit, surrounded by 12 entities, or apostles rather. All hope is dead, because when pigs have flown, yet will no longer, there really is nothing left to wish for. 

The Madonna and the Whore (Potential Acquisition)

(160x180cm), 2023, spray paint and acrylic on cardboard, satin sewn (blanket stitch) with wool to cardboard (edges and centrepiece)

This piece is an evolution upon a watercolour I created in August of 2022. The watercolour featured a bleeding vulva surrounded by thorns; an attempt to understand a miscarriage I experienced. Feeling a duality of shame and an indiscernible softness, I depicted the outline of the Madonna in the inner folds of labia.  

For me, Mary exists abstract to Christianity, and acts as a manifestation of my deceased grandmother. I want to juxtapose this icon of motherhood and purity against sexuality and femininity to demonstrate the complexity of being a woman. 

 In adding the characteristics of a dust ruffle to otherwise crude materials, this work acts as a reflection on the past as it informs a gentler future.


Nicotine Dreams (Sold)

(100×100), 2023, acrylic on canvas 

Using bright and conceptual visual language, I choose to idolise a guilty pleasure. In the same way we combat rational logic with ‘just one more’.

  Of Innocence

(30x40cm), 2021-2023, acrylic and oil pastel on canvas, lace string sewn to canvas

‘And so, reading my palm, the man twice my age then told me how very openminded and passionate I am meant to be, simply because my thumb can bend all the way back.’

‘I know I have so much power, I just manage to hide from myself so well, instead its given to others, and I reap the consequences’ – 14/12/2021.

‘Of Innocence’ is the final iteration of a series of therapeutic repainting’s taken place on this canvas between December 2021 and February 2023. Exploring sexuality, youth, and exaction of power within oneself as it relates to individual experience. 


I am the Walrus

(75x100cm), 2023, acrylic, oil pastel and lead pencil on canvas 

In response to intense analysation of the Beatles’ lyrics by fans – and an acid trip, naturally – John Lennon penned his absurdist masterpiece. “Walrus is just saying a dream” said Lennon and during the writing process of ‘I am the Walrus’, ranting to a close friend; “Let the fuckers work that one out”. 

While this approach to the production of art could be seen as derivative, I think it encompasses the reason humans create. Art is for exploration, seeing one’s dreamscape in the physical realm and pure provocation. I want to remind people to feel in response to art, rather than hyper-intellectualising it. Academics think, artists emote. 

My ‘Walrus’ is still saying a dream. It arises from a need to feel protected from oneself, within oneself; the necessity of finding a haven within the nightmare of self. A talisman, a story, a beauty, and a fear, yet still devoid of holistic meaning.


(60x60cm), 2023, acrylic on canvas 

This piece was a highly intuitive work and was the precurser to the creation of all other works listed in this collection. As someone who suffers from anxiety, depression and ADHD, I feel a constant noise, almost as if I can hear electricity zapping from innumerable neurons dashing and dancing in my head. At moments its unbearable and it’s the weight of countless indesicernable thoughts that leads me to disasociate. I underwent neurosurgery at a young age, this experince has caused distrust of thought and emotions to be a familiar feeling for me. My art practice acts as a space to explore this internal discourse without pressure for resolution.

Fractured was an attempt to unravel this noise, I imagined pulling my brain out through my ear like a string, able to do with it what I will. Loosely inspired by Pier Mondrian’s ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie’ (1942-1943), I focused on using linework to create a visual flow of energy. Exploring the use of simplified shapes to enable cognitive associations is something I want to concentrate on creatively, going forth. While I don’t believe I was successful in that particular endeavour in Fractured it signals the advent of a greater understanding of my own visual language.