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Emma Hislop is the current inaugural Artist in Residence with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. During her residency, she is working towards a theatrical production described as a ‘Creation semi-fiction for Futurists’ whilst creating the online archive of her process, ‘Open Tongue’.


Hislop’s work tethers between an ecological artist practice and environmental research-based practices. She takes inspiration from sci-fi, hermetic creation narratives and scientific research. She is keen to inspire others around the interlacing of science and art, through an emerging lens of ontological devices. She describes herself as an amateur meteorologist/scientific glassblower/self-psychoanalyst in addition to her multi-disciplinary practice. She pursues collaboration with experts to unwind and entangle their knowledge with her metaphorical perceptions.


Her work has been awarded by the Sustainability in Action Group, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Royal Scottish Academy and received funding from Creative Scotland and Artists’ Network. Hislop is due to undertake a research grant at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop later this year and a residency in Assens, Denmark in 2021.



Headshot of Emma

Can you relate the idea of ripples to your everyday practice?

I attempt to cause a ripple with my work, I often categorize art as a virus, I would say that my work strives to be a physical or visual carrier. I am influenced by the prospect of a ripple but also those that come into contact with my work. As I research, I find serendipitous touchpoints that bring together current and past research or ideas. Whenever there is an inflection, I know that I am on the right path to generating a unique perspective, or continue the trail and offer insight into the pre-existing.


I attempt to cause a ripple with my work, I often categorize art as a virus, I would say that my work strives to be a physical or visual carrier.


What ripples has your work caused, and how far-reaching are these?

Does the origin of a ripple ever see it’s waves? Is the resonance of my voice aware of its echo? The awareness I have of my cause and effect is only through conversations, every part of an interconnecting web acts as one network. Perhaps I am too close to the hyperobject to see what I cause in the system, or more likely – knowing my role isn’t essential, it’s holding the responsibility of that role that matters – even when you can’t see the waves.


What ripples do you want to set in motion that you want to see take effect in the future?

I’d like to foster the length of a ripple, if not start a new discourse around potential force/unseen presence. I don’t think this would be a new topic but a new facet to the conversation that Jung, Fisher and others have paved the way for. Taking this from the realm of relevant knowledge into the slightly more absurd – allowing for uncensored speculative thinking. I aim to create works that resonate and have resonance, the echo or vibration from this comes from the viewer, it’s up to them to perpetuate the wave.


What does it feel like when inspiration hits you? 

It feels like a mistake, like oh, no that must be a stupid idea or that I’ve blindly stumbled into a library and think I’m the inventor of printed matter. Then I pull back and strip away the hubris to try and see that natural moment of inspiration, the creation of a new idea – impossible to see but easy to feel – like describing a unique flavour or sense. I’m overwhelmed by the realization of the infinite amount of work and time that would be needed to recreate or demonstrate it. And then I become saddened that it could only ever be a replica, which gets me excited and frustrated enough to motivate me to start work. It’s a very emotional high and low process, and genuinely isolating that you could never even fathom the language to explain what you feel let alone what you are trying to say.


Do ripples come to you or are ripples generated from within?

Of course both, I have a fascination with terms and phrases I encounter – “gurgling gut” epitomizes this. From within yet met.


We know that actions cause ripples of all kinds; with this in mind, how do you perform care through your work?

Taking the frame of ripples to equal what I refer to as legacy, all works I make must add to the branches of knowledge I am exploring. They must foster an open, engaging, diverse and inclusive discourse that expands the broader conversation. Whether physical, digital or philosophical, they must not become ‘trash’ – whether to landfill/waste/disuse or to become ‘dirty data’/information hierarchical loss or flattening/information overload. I do this through tackling language and vocabulary – attempting to stop terms like waste which are finite and cause complete destruction of value. Physically, I challenge my works’ afterlife – such as utilizing and revaluing broken glass pieces (I am very dyspraxic) by breaking the glass down with a stone crusher to a sand state and returning this to the sea. Ethically, I continue to try and educate myself on the impact and reach of my work, recognizing my highly conceptual practice and constantly shifting its states to encounter and engage with different audiences.