Emily Hesse (Visual Arts, 2020)Tea Service, 2016.Ceramic. Brick clay, glaze and clay slip.

Emily Hesse

Shortlisted in 2020 for Visual Arts

Emily Hesse is a multidisciplinary visual artist based in North-East England who draws materials from her surrounding landscapes to tell stories of place, social history and the passing of time, unpacking complex narratives that define working-class communities.

Hesse produced Blackbirds Born from Invisible Starsin 2019, a bookwork she describes as a “sculptural object” and separate from its content which is a semi-autobiographical, prose-based view of what “strategic regionalism means to an artist of [her] background, age and position.”

Her 2018 solo exhibition The Taste of This History: A Church in my Mouth (Workplace Gallery, Gateshead) addressed the barriers Hesse faces as a female, working class, middle aged artist. For example, The Centre of Things 2018played on craft traditions associated with the feminine, featuring a needle hanging on thread woven from local moorland wool and the hair of Hesse and her daughters.

Hesse’s most recent work Kissing the Bees (2019) is 17-minute film installation shot on a mobile phone, bringing together research into witchcraft of the North York Moors as an early form of matriarchal social organising.