Emma Hardicker is a designer, printmaker, painter and Blue Magpie favourite. Anyone who’s visited Elmslie House will have seen her work dotted throughout the house – from limited edition prints to curtains and blinds. Having been a fan of Emma’s work for a long time, Anna Taylor, Blue Magpie’s Founder and owner of Elmslie House, commissioned Emma to create a cityscape of Malvern. Featuring 27 landmarks, Emma’s Malvern print has been a huge success since its launch in 2018.
With Emma’s Malvern prints now available to buy from the Blue Magpie website, we caught up with the artist herself to find out more about her art and creative process.
How did you choose which landmarks to include in your Malvern cityscape?
This was a wonderful commission from Anna at Elmslie House. I have taken part in many of Anna’s exhibitions and Blue Magpie events over the years and she is brilliant to work with. So, when Anna asked about a commission it was a pleasure to take the work on. It started with a chat with Anna about Malvern places she loves and wanted in the work. I have family who live in Malvern and have spent a lifetime walking up the Malvern Hills, so I knew the area already. The research for this cityscape started with exploring – looking at buildings, at new angles, talking to people who live in Malvern and just building up what the core of the place is. I looked for magical elements too, like the Narnia lampposts that are dotted around the town. I love putting elements like that in, as for me the point of art is to whisk you away somewhere. When I look at the lamppost I am walking through the wardrobe and into the snow far away. When I work on a cityscape I normally split landmarks into two categories – ‘must be in’ and ‘if it works’.
How long did it take you to create the Malvern cityscape?
It took just over a month. There are so many elements to creating a cityscape – researching, plotting, designing, drawing and printing. The process is done by hand, so I can’t make mistakes. Designing is very important to get the overall design working together.
Do you have a favourite stage when it comes to creating your cityscapes?
What sets you apart from other artists is your style – how you put things together, how you achieve a design that works and how it engages with people. I like people to spend time looking at my work – to realise how intriguing the image is; to see straight away what parts can’t immediately be worked out; the patterns and buildings merging into each other. This is the fun part for me – to create a piece of art that makes people stop and look. Of course, I love printing the images but this is more a process. It’s fun mixing the colours and revealing the beautiful texture that finishes the design off perfectly.
How did you find working in lockdown? Did you have to do anything differently?
Me and my husband have a little boy, so when lockdown started nursery closed. We found ourselves in the same situation as many parents – with full time jobs and full time childcare. We thought, “how are we going to work it out?” Being self-employed has its benefits and I was able to start my working day late afternoon and work into the evenings, doing our best to juggle everything. So the days during lockdown were very long. All of this meant I had no time for designing, as I really needed time to think and absorb myself into the design work. I kept everything ticking over, which has been plenty of work. I managed to get involved in a couple of exciting events during lockdown to keep a toe in the creative world.
Firstly, the artist support pledge (#artistsupportpledge), has been a wonderful project to be involved in. I spent time searching through my plan chests in the studio for interesting artist proofs, one-off paintings and sold out editions – things which you wouldn’t normally be able to buy. It’s been great fun for me re-discovering prints and a big help as the work has been sold. For many artists, all exhibitions and shows have been cancelled so #artistsupportpledge has been a lovely way of having some income through a new platform at a difficult time. I do really miss the face-to-face interaction as it is truly lovely seeing people’s reactions to my work.
Another wonderful project I have taken part in is raising money for Charleston (home of the Bloomsbury Group in Sussex) through the Charleston Inspires Auction. I donated one of my sold out editions of ‘Fritillaries, blue’ and it made £260 for the cause. Charleston is a place I have very fond memories of and if you are an artist you really have to visit at some point as it’s so inspiring. With over £55,000 raised through the auction, people can hopefully now visit for the amazing house and garden at Charleston for years to come.
Emma’s Malvern cityscape is available to buy in various formats from the Blue Magpie Contemporary Craft Fairs and online shop. Limited edition screen prints, giclée prints, tea towels and cards are available here.