The Alan Cristea Gallery will unveil a new body of work on paper by Emma Stibbon RA (b. 1962) for her first solo exhibition with the gallery. Volcano will feature new drawings and an immense woodcut made in response to her recent residency in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park where she lived and worked amongst the sacred and fabled volcanoes of Kilauea and Mauna Loa, some of the biggest and most active in the world.
Stibbon explains, "I am drawn to environments undergoing transition or change. During my time on the flanks of Kilauea I became acutely aware that this is a contingent landscape, liable to shift or transform at any time."
Working from sketches and photographic records of eruptions, rivers of molten lava and volcanic features which she made on location, her studio based works became a direct expression of her experiences in the field. Stibbon has recorded her responses to the physical impact of this mystical environment in large, monochromatic drawings depicting stark and lonely landscapes that highlight the fragility of our existence. To convey the elusiveness of the subject in the material fabric of her work, Stibbon uses delicate drawing media, combining ink, watercolour and volcanic ash, the later imparting the actual experience of the location to the viewer.
Making the drawings and prints is often labour intensive. A new monumental woodblock print, Caldera Overlook, measuring 214 x 372 cm, is her largest work to date. The woodcut evokes the glow of the volcanic crater through lush rain forest and serves as a reminder that, despite it's destructive power, there is always renewal.
Stibbon continues to be fascinated by the impact of human activity on some of the world most isolated regions. She travels widely, and has previously recorded in her drawings the retreat of ice sheets and glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic Peninsulas. Under the aegis of the Scott Polar Research Institute and with the assistance of the Royal Navy, in 2013 Stibbon recorded in her work the beauty and frailty of the Polar Regions.
Stibbon's residency was completed through The National Parks Arts Foundation in association with Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park of the National Park.