Back Talk: A Conversation with Emma Tooth

February 25, 2012

UK-based Emma Tooth, who has shown in the past with Lazarides Gallery, will be part of Thinkspace Gallery's Picks of the Harvest 2012 group show opening March 3 in Culver City. The exhibition will feature numerous artists Thinkspace has had their eye on over the past year exhibited alongside new works from several of our regular Thinkspace family members, and we were able to have a conversation with Emma on a wide-ranging of topics, including Japan, Oscar Wilde, and Joanna Newsom.

1.One reason you make art:


To inject some beauty into daily life.


2. The last good movie you saw:


The Scarlet Empress with Marlene Dietrich.


3. Something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to:




4. Favorite country or city visited:


Koyasan, Japan. It’s a holy mountain for buddhists and at the top is the most beautiful and magical place I have ever seen or dreamed of – Okunoin. It almost seems too private to talk about - it doesn’t seem like a real place but a secret part of me. I want to be buried there.



5. A few words that sum up your philosophy on life:


‘It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection; through art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.’ Oscar Wilde.


6. Something you want the world to know about you:


I do pictures, you know.


7.Something that annoys or frustrates you about people:


You never know what they’re thinking! Most of the time that’s probably for the best though, but sometimes it would be nice to know.



8. Something that concerns you:


How switched off people are. They just plug into the anaesthetic misdirection of mass media and miss the world going by. They miss all that is truly beautiful in the world. They’ll call in in their millions to vote someone out of the Big Brother house, but no one bats an eyelid when their basic rights are being taken away! Women now think that they are empowered by pole dancing and that Dita von Teese is a feminist icon! People will swallow anything they’re told. It’s a dream come true for patriarchy, for governments and salespeople.


Things are shifting in the West. In the UK things are changing, it’s scary, and those who can see what’s coming are scared to speak incase they get acid thrown in their faces or get their heads cut off – no wonder people want to bury their heads in the sand and watch reality TV – maybe I should buy a television too…


9. Artists you admire:


Royal De Luxe rocked my world with The Sultan’s Elephant when it came to London. They simply make magic. I actually cried when that elephant took its first steps – no other art has ever had the power to make me cry in a public place!




10. Favorite quote(s):


‘The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it’.


I’m a screaming Oscar Wilde fangirl by the way!


11. The first record or CD you ever bought? The last album you downloaded?


Oh god, I’ve no idea what the first was, but music is probably the form of art I consume most and respond to most. I have music on all the time in my studio and sing constantly! The last download I can think of was probably Have One On Me by Joanna Newsom. I listened to that all last summer while creating my Heredity work and there’s this amazing live bootleg about of her performing the whole of her Ys album that I listen to just all the time. It’s like a religious experience – that album takes me to some amazing places. It’s very emotional for me to sing those songs and I’m not really sure why; they’re just so beautiful. I’m coming across very emotional in this interview! – but actually it’s precisely because it’s so unusual for something to break through my defences that that these things really stand out. That’s real art, real spirituality – that’s what art should be able to do.


12. Something you do when you’re procrastinating?


I make hats.



13. What is your most defining characteristic?


I have absolutely no idea what that could be.


14. What is your greatest fear?


Having to work in a supermarket.



15. The moment you realized you were an ‘artist’:


I must have been so young I don’t remember.


16. Your greatest quality:


How I care for my animals. I’d do anything for them! I take pride in knowing that just a few chickens out of the billions in the world who are so abused, my little ones want for nothing. Do I prefer them to people? Actually, yes!


17. Something you wish you could change or alter about yourself:


I could do with being a bit more famous I suppose…



18. What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and was it worth it?


Oh no, I’m not a risk taker at all!


19. Something you wish you had known five years ago:


How nice my life would be right now; what I do, where I live. I’d have found it really comforting. I would not have worried so much.


20. What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years of your life?


Well, in some ways I hope not too much changes at all. I want to paint a lot more, do bigger shows, do more internationally, particularly in the US and Japan. My resolution this year was to have an Exciting Year and it’s going very well so far, but I do love an adventure!


Emma Tooth will part of Picks of the Harvest 2012

Thinkspace Gallery
On view March 3rd through March 24th
Culver City, California