Getting tied up with Emily Motto

Emily Motto is a dreamy, curly haired babe with a penchant for flour and playdough. There are probably very few materials, however weird, that Emily can’t turn into a beautiful sculpture, if she tries.

Fresh out of the Ruskin, Emily exhibited at the ICA, and she’s been hopping from one show to the next ever since. She is currently artist-in-residence at Platform, our London hub, where she shares a studio with the guys from Vermilion Hook. Her work is playful and spontaneous, but consistently graceful, with all the qualities of a crazy dance, or poem.

Inspired by last year’s piece, at the festival she invites you to contribute to a maze of coloured wool. As you weave between the stakes in the ground, you’ll be able to create your own pathways and tangles through the work, which will only be complete on Monday when we all head home.

Emily's string sculpture photographed Hollie Fernando
Emily’s string sculpture photographed Hollie Fernando


Tell us about your piece at Brainchild 2015…

Last year I made a kind of flexible hollow hemisphere leaning on an edge of a large cube. It was exciting seeing people add to it; things from tent pegs (very functionally!) to a strange antique wicker chair got intertwined and used within it, and stretched the work out into the rest of the festival. That has definitely inspired me for this year.

What other projects make you proud?

Most recently I created An Arena at The Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre in London – the result of some new casting experiments I’d been working on whilst in residence there. I also made a work The Passing Wave at Clyde & Co in London which was commissioned for their 18m long corridor for 2014-15.

A Bodily Capacity at Dilston Grove, London, 2012

What’s your dream project?

I’m working towards my dream thing at the moment! A giant maze-like structure which I’m working on for the Beaconsfield Upper Space in Sept/Oct this year.

Who is your dream person to collaborate with?

Pipilotti Rist would be exciting to collaborate with!

image from an arena

What is your favourite material to work with and why?

I love this 1inch square wire garden mesh I’ve been using – I always have so much of it around – it’s so malleable and I love the way I can create forms using it that have such a presence and potential to consume a space whilst made mostly of holes.

Have you been exploring anything new recently?

Yes! I’ve been growing lots of plants in things – they take a while to develop but they’re so great to have in the studio and see slowly change whilst I’m working on other things.


You’re a fan of happy accidents, tell us how you make these work for you?

I guess it has just taken practice and experimentation to have a kind of confidence with having some unknowns, and to get to know what elements I am happy loosening control over!

What gems did you discover at last year’s festival?

So many! I think one of my favourite moments was listening to people play in Abigail Portus’ pavilion. The atmosphere in her structure was so beautiful as the sun went down – inside there was this coziness that felt like you were indoors somehow, but as it went dark and the stars came close you were back outside again.


poster image in studio (1)


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