Self-taught, her training was in prosthetics, and initially discouraged from becoming an artist, Emma Hopkins wins another accolade.
Last night at the National Portrait Gallery, Emma Hopkins won the £9,000 Young Artist Award for ‘Sophie and Carla’, a portrait that depicts the photographer Sophie Mayanne and her pet dog.
The judges liked the way negative space had been used in the picture, and how the artist had refreshed the traditional depiction of the nude with a compelling mutual gaze between the artist and sitter.
Like many artists, Emma was discouraged from pursuing fine art, although she continued to paint alongside her studies in prosthetics. “It was something I’d always really wanted to do but had been advised against – fine art or painting – but I knew my heart wasn’t in the [prosthetics] industry. So once I graduated, I just focused as much as I could on painting. I got a job in an art supply shop and just took it from there.”
Emma normally paints her subjects in the nude and felt that Mayanne’s confidence in her body allowed her to explore “I want to understand what it means to be human. We are not just the clothed person we present to the world” she says. Mayanne’s presence is palpable, her self-respect matter of fact. The vulnerability we often associate with nakedness comes as an afterthought. Mayanne is known for her project Behind the Scars, a campaign which celebrates and explores people’s scars and the stories behind them. Much like her subject, Hopkins uses portraiture as a means of examining the skin and looking beyond it.
What a fantastic accolade and well deserved from one of our most promising young artists. Emma won the Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ De Lazlo Foundation award last year.