‘Black Roses’, Emily Moore‘s debut solo exhibition, marks the culmination of the artist’s time on a bursary at SPACE studios after winning The Valerie Beston Artists’ Trust Award 2020. Moore, an MA graduate in Painting from The Royal College of Art, coined the term Wildness during her time studying to not only describe her own approach to art-making but also to address the wider discourse that surrounds contemporary painting. Evoking a multidisciplinary attitude to mark-making, Wildness typifies an explorative practice that allows for spontaneity and improvisation, and imagines the studio as a wild environment from which crude beauty can emerge. If Wildness is considered as Moore’s visual language of choice, then Black Roses can be seen as the verbal and visual iconography, as well as existing analogous to her position as a Black British woman navigating the art world. The motif of the Black Rose, a fictitious floral form unable to exist in nature without human intervention, is thoroughly investigated at Ordovas through painting, textiles, sculpture and works on paper.
From an initial series of ten ink on paper compositions, we see the Black Rose icon evolve through numerous guises, a diverse emblem that takes both visual and verbal form throughout the exhibition. The wilds of black roses (2021), a set of six crochet tapestries, depict the motif as a factious linguistic formation, undecipherable yet hinting at an imagined reading and implied language as yet unknown to the viewer. These scribbled writings later reappear in the sculptural work Weighted in pure black petals (2021), as black roses crafted from excess canvas and yarm sprout from the spines of antiquated books, their text written over and rescripted with Moore’s own expressive semantics. Both a Wildness approach to material and medium, as well as an interest in traditional craft techniques of the kind that bind communities and are handed down through generations, are evident in Moore’s paintings. An almost agricultural employ of raw, unprimed canvas and industrial fencing painting personifies a practice unafraid of experimentation and rough, unrefined aesthetics. Morowa, Naamah & Diarra (all 2021), Moore’s largest painterly constructions, hang unstretched akin to the artist’s renowned textile works, each fringed with tassels and beading that transcend craft and design in this context.
While the Wildness moniker may be befitting of Moore’s studio practice and application of interdisciplinary cross-medium mark-making, ‘Black Roses’ in reality displays a body of work that is at once refined in its historic contextualisation and conceptual underpinnings whilst retaining an engaging and intriguing physical presence.