Jana Emburey was born in the former Czechoslovakia in 1979. She studied Theatrical Costume Design and Production in Bratislava, Slovakia. Jana moved to Britain in 1997 and in 2012 she completed her BA Hons in Visual Art in North Glasgow College. Subsequently she moved to Caithness where she worked in the St Fergus Gallery in Wick, the Lyth Arts Center as well as working as an artist. In the spring of 2017 Jana started to work as a full time artist and in the summer of the same year she moved to the countryside of the Badenoch and Strathspey area.
The work stems from cell division, multiplication and growth of everything in this world and beyond, all made up of tiny cells/particles.
A few years ago I was researching the subject of human population growth which I knew very little about and how it might be affecting our environment. I was looking at cells under the microscope dividing and then I came across a photo of a group of people gathering around a water source. The photo was taken from above and from the distance the formation looked very much like what I was seeing under the microscope. I started to make small drawings and monotypes based on these images. I made them on Japanese Kozo paper as it’s thin enough to make clear, thin lined monotype drawings and it’s very strong, doesn’t tear easily. The texture and colour of the paper is very beautiful too.
As I scaled the work up later on, I started to draw the cells with ink and continued to use Japanese Kozo paper as I like the texture for drawing. There’s also the significance of the strength yet fragility of the paper – very much like our ecosystem. The cells are individually drawn; the image is slowly built up. Sometimes I have quite a clear idea of what the outcome should be, other times, I let it completely develop on its own, trying to solve what’s happening as I work. Often they were about possible formations of people or our behaviour, so I adopted titles such as Gathering, Invasion, Expansion, Migrations, Travellers and so on.
The work is very much about how everything is related but also about how unaware we are to what is happening in us, underground, in the oceans, sky, the universe.
Making these works is very labour intensive, absorbing, meditative. The titles slowly emerge as I work on them. I find they are important too, but I do keep them very ambiguous. It’s not for me to tell others what to see in these works.
My Sweet Oblivion works are done with Chinese, acrylic ink and dipping pen or archival pens, acrylic and watercolour paint. Usually on Japanese Kozo paper stretched over painted wooden boards. I usually varnish my work with an acrylic, matte varnish to protect against UV light.
Sweet Oblivion was Jana’s first solo show at &Gallery which was held in the old gallery space during November 2018. Hope you enjoy the short film below of Jana’s exhibition:
Click here to view a section of available work on the gallery website.
Photos are a curtesy of the artist, Jenny Smith and John McNaught at Highland Print Studio.