Emily Siddell began working with kiln formed glass while studying at Carrington Polytechnic (UNITEC) in Auckland. During this period she focused her study on Jewellery and Glass design, and learnt her glass techniques from glass artist Ann Robinson. At the time British glass artist Colin Reid was also in residence and he, along with jeweller Alan Preston were influential on the development of Emily’s work.
Her interest in contemporary glass and jewellery has led to the series of oversized glass necklaces, leis and garlands. These delicate works reflect the influence of Polynesian culture which is such a large part of the Auckland community. Emily feels that the Maori and Polynesian aspects of New Zealand culture are hugely important in generating her own identity as a pacific artist.
The works utilise a number of techniques, combining kiln fused glass, beads, ceramics, and in some cases flax and woven fibres. Although these works are sculptural in form and scale, Emily still considers them to be in the most part jewellery, insisting that jewellery does not necessarily have to be worn, but can exist as an object in its own right.
The process of slip-casting her ceramics elements multiples and repeats the same forms. This evokes the growth and repetition found in nature, particularly plant forms, and in traditional crafts that use those plants, like plaiting, weaving, lei making.
Intrigued by the transformation of materials when they are manipulated by simple craft processes, Emily aims to create forms that are at once soft and hard, capturing the clay’s transition from liquid to solid. In recent years Emily has been exploring the ceramic side of her practice, learning to throw and translating the use of ‘wild clay’ – hand-dug local clay – to an urban Auckland context, continuing her interest in ideas of reuse.
Emily’s work is in numerous private and public collections including Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland; Te Papa Tongrewa, Wellington; Wallace Arts Trust Collection, Auckland; and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Collection, Wellington.