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STEP INTO A WORLD OF ILLUSION, NATURE & BODY ART (otherwise known as The Emma Hack Studio & Gallery)


STEP INTO A WORLD OF ILLUSION, NATURE & BODY ART (otherwise known as The Emma Hack Studio & Gallery)

Rachel Darling

If you aren’t aware of the whimsical and magically surreal world of Adelaide artist Emma Hack, the truth is, you probably are- without even knowing it! Hack’s interest in camouflage, illusion and body art has taken her creativity into many different realms - and ones that you may know well. For example, you may be one of the millions of people who have seen the music video for the song Somebody that I used to know (2011), in which internationally acclaimed Australian artist, Gotye, is painted into the wall behind him. Or perhaps you have seen the 2012 Australian Motor Accident Commission campaign, in which 17 bodies are painted and formed together to create the image of a car. If you’re still scratching your head- don’t worry, because with the opening of her new gallery, The Emma Hack Studio & Gallery, Adelaideans have the permanent opportunity to make themselves familiar with Emma Hack’s work.

The Emma Hack Studio & Gallery is an open and light-filled space located in the North Adelaide Village Shopping Centre on O’Connell Street and holds some of Hack’s most well known and beloved works. Originally opened as part of SALA Festival in 2014, the gallery has since remained open with Hack feeling that it was the right time and space for her to do so.

‘I thought I’d give it a go doing my own thing,’ she says,

 ‘I also didn’t see where I really fit in with the galleries that were still around at that time.’

Before opening The Emma Hack Studio & Gallery, Hack was involved with many different galleries around Australia and the world, and also ran a couple of pop-up galleries in Adelaide. But once The Emma Hack Studio & Gallery was opened, she felt that she had found a more permanent space.

‘I do tend to listen to a sense of destiny-when things are easy, they’re meant to be,’ she says,

‘I really love this space- it’s a lot lighter than the spaces I have previously had.’

The gallery is a perfect representation of Hack’s style, with lots of colour, classic wallpaper designs and of course plenty of wall space for her many pieces to hang. But apart from the usual gallery features, the space also includes a studio, where people are encouraged to come and watch Hack at work. She feels that this is an important element of the space because people like to feel involved in something.

‘People can sort of come in here and see what I’m up to. Because of social media now, people want more- they want to see more, they want to be more in-touch’ 

Known for her interest in camouflage, body art and print designs inspired by the late Florence Broadhurst, Hack’s works are a blend of multiple artistic platforms including paint, print, and photography. Her previous Wallpaper exhibitions have featured the human form blended into iconic wallpaper designs through the use of body paint and photography, creating a flow between the print and the human body.  Sometimes the bodies are so well disguised; it is hard to tell where the wallpaper ends and the bodies begin.

‘I love anything to do with illusion,’ she says, ‘I like the fact that you can look at something and then see something deeper in it.’

It is this fascination that has landed her some of her larger projects, such as the Gotye video clip.

‘It was quite a commercial thing to do, but it was done in an artistic way,’ says Hack of the project.

The video clip also exposed her artwork to a wider audience of people that are not immediately connected with the visual art world, including the younger fans of Gotye.

‘It’s really weird because now I have this little group of younger followers and it’s great,’ she says, ‘the amount of young followers even just on Instagram is mental!’

Hack says that her next focus is on generation ‘Z’ and she has involved herself with community events such as ‘The Last Friday,’ which is held on the last Friday of every month. Running from 4pm-8pm, the event starts at The North Adelaide Village Shopping Center and aims to involve kids in something creative. Last Friday the theme was a musical one, with up to 80 kids making and painting drums, then being a part of a drumming parade down O’Connell Street- complete with Brazilian dancers!

‘We like to have a few elements,’ says Hack, ‘there’s being creative, there’s being a part of something and there is usually watching something and having a bit of fun.’

With local restaurants setting up on the street and lots of creativity, Hack says it is a lot of fun and encourages parents to involve their kids.

‘It gets them out and about rather than sitting at home.’ she says of the event, ‘rug them up! Put a little scarf on them, a little hat and a little jacket and go for a wander through the street! It’s lots of fun!’

Hack feels that generation ‘Z’ is an important one because they are so aware of society and topics of world conversation.

‘Social media activity has brought awareness to them about the wider world and they are probably in fact very frightened of the future. At least, this is what I have found with the research that I’ve been doing.’

Through events such as ‘The Last Friday’ Hack hopes to bring a sense of involvement to the younger generation.

‘As a community it is important to involve kids as much as possible with their creativity- have them making and doing and being a part of something.’

Being a Radelaide girl, Hack says that she is a big fan of this city and credits it as part of her success.

‘I don’t think I would have become an artist like this if I hadn’t lived here. I’ve got South Australia to thank in that way.’

With her works usually containing natural elements such as flowers and animals, Hack also says that the South Australian bush lands are a part of her inspiration and also offer a place to reconnect with herself and nature.

‘I’m a city girl, but I’m also a nature girl. You get nature half an hour out of Adelaide city, which is what I think is great about Adelaide.’

So the next time you have nothing to do on one of these beautiful autumn days in Adelaide, and feel like looking at some human bodies very expertly blended into obscure backgrounds- pop in to The Emma Hack Studio & Gallery! You will find a lovely and welcoming space full of intricate wallpaper, stunning artworks, elegant furnishings and perhaps Emma Hack herself- one of Adelaide’s most prized and successful (not to mention friendly!) artists. But be warned: with all the clever camouflage going on it that pretty place, you will likely never look at wallpaper the same way again!

All images courtesy of The Emma Hack Studio & Gallery