Emma Spence graduated with a degree in Fine Art from the University of Ulster in 2006. Since then she has exhibited in both the North and South of Ireland and sells work in England. Her work is a response to her ongoing exploration of her surroundings and history. The pieces explore and tie together the importance of family, history and explore agriculture not just a method of employment but as a way of life. Emma says, “My ancestors bought my home farm and continued this way of living for four generations and I am fuelled by the fact that my history forms my present. I aim to present the raw beauty I see in my ancestors’ lives of hard labour in an Irish farming culture”.
The work is mixed media on board and incorporates old wallpaper, invoices and bills dated from the 1930’s onwards, old family letters and contemporary reports on farming. These items illustrate a progression and continuity through time and serve to highlight farming as a business, a way of life and an industry which is currently under threat. Although the items used in the creation of the painting are personal to the artist they serve to evoke common memories – particularly in Ireland where land and agriculture remain inextricably linked to national cultural identity.