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We Are MA: Emily Cannell, MA Fashion

Fashion practitioner Emily Cannell graduated from MA Fashion in 2019. We interview her about her practice and why the process of making is important to her.

Can you tell me about your practice?

I am a fashion practitioner who explores ideas around temporality, the implied body and the unfinished within my work.

I use the technique of draping to create intriguing, uncanny forms from textiles, and I install them within strong architectural landscapes.

My sculptural pieces use the dimensions of the body as their basis, but are exaggerated into new shapes, and become something on the border of recognisability.

I love to see how far I can push this before that familiarity is lost, and this has become my way of exploring the complex relationship between the body and fashion. I use photography, film and installation to express my work, because for me, fashion transcends simply clothing alone.

Why is your practice important to you?

My practice is how I express what I feel in my gut about my experience of living in the world today, therefore it is like breathing.

If I may use the words of Olafur Eliasson, ‘I love this notion that you can look at a work of art and you feel that the artwork is reflecting or hosting your not yet articulated emotional need…I look at a painting and I say “I know that feeling, I know that person, that’s like me, that’s how I feel.”’

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What do you enjoy most about the process of making?

I enjoy the journey of discovery one embarks on at the start of a project, learning new ways to realise the imagery in your imagination.

Delving into visual and theoretical resources such as books, visiting archives, wandering around new places, listening and engaging with the flow of your surroundings. I enjoy the serendipitous moments, when things seemingly ‘click into place’.

However, the best part for me is when something I have made takes on a life of its own, forms its own language and reveals to me something about myself that I didn’t know before. I feel a great sense of euphoria and then peacefulness, which lasts momentarily until I begin something new.

How do you feel your MA empowered you to grow and develop creatively and professionally?

The MA completely changed my life. I took advantage of every opportunity I could, attending workshops, lectures, work placements and reaching out to industry.

I really wanted to understand who I was as an artist, what I wanted to say through my practice, and the course gave me the tools I needed to dig deeper into my motivations, and the confidence to claim my space as an artist with something valuable to offer.

At times I felt overwhelmed, ecstatic, tired, and this is the reality, but ultimately I have found my purpose through in-depth study, creation and reflection.

What inspired you about your tutors, technicians and fellow students during your MA?

My tutors inspired me to work without limitations, to really pursue what it is I believed in without fear. The technicians were a joy, extremely knowledgeable, and helped me to come up with practical solutions to problems.

My fellow students are now part of a diverse creative community of working practitioners, all with something exciting and unique to say.

I must stress, that this is a special reason for studying the MA courses at NUA, because cross disciplinary conversations are encouraged and explored.

View more of Emily’s work on her website and Instagram