In September the Alan Cristea Gallery, London, will unveil a new body of work on paper by Emma Stibbon RA (b. 1962) for her first solo exhibition with the gallery. Volcano (2 – 30 September 2017) will feature new drawings and an immense woodcut made in response to her recent residency in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park where she lived and worked amongst the sacred and fabled volcanoes of Kilauea and Mauna Loa, some of the biggest and most active in the world.
Stibbon explains, “I am drawn to environments undergoing transition or change. During my time on the flanks of Kilauea I became acutely aware that this is a contingent landscape, liable to shift or transform at any time.” Working from sketches and photographic records of eruptions, rivers of molten lava and volcanic features which she made on location, her studio based works became a direct expression of her experiences in the field. Stibbon has recorded her responses to the physical impact of this mystical environment in large, monochromatic drawings depicting stark and lonely landscapes that highlight the fragility of our existence. To convey the elusiveness of the subject in the material fabric of her work, Stibbon uses delicate drawing media, combining ink, watercolour and volcanic ash, the later imparting the actual experience of the location to the viewer.
Making the drawings and prints is often labour intensive. A new monumental woodblock print, Caldera Overlook, (pictured) measuring 212 x 94.5 cm, is her largest work to date. The woodcut evokes the glow of the volcanic crater through lush rain forest and serves as a reminder that, despite it’s destructive power, there is always renewal.