By Andrew Mulenga
Despite moving to England at a tender age, Emily Kirby’s habitual visits to her Zambian-based parents have clearly had a decisive influence on her work.
|Emily Kirby (l) with fellow artist Caroline Miyoba at the |
opening of the Africa Revisited exhibition last week
The Londoner is an emerging painter, whose depiction of the Zambian landscape gives it an idealistic aura through her electrifying use of bright colours, evidently defying the fact that she lives and works in a city infamous for its seemingly unfriendly, “mind-your-own-business-type” of citizens and its gloomy weather.
Nevertheless, it is particularly in her depiction of wildlife that she reveals her watchful eye and flair for capturing the dramatized if not theatrical portray of animals in motion, rendering them in a few slashes of oil paint with a palette knife and brush stroke. A typical example is “Lion Hunt” that vaguely renders the shadowy image of a lioness in hot pursuit of warthog.
|Lion Hunt (oil on linen) by Emily Kirby|
“I paint quite quickly. I really enjoy the effect it (speed) has on the work and I think it allows you to be quite intuitive in your sense of creating... because I also work from photos that I take spontaneously. I allow movement to come into the painting,” explains the 31-year-old who is currently affiliated to two trendy London galleries.
“I think movement has always been a part of my life from the time I had to leave Zambia. Fleeting moments are important to me, the transient nature of places and capturing people in their environment in a flash".
|Road To Kafue (oil on linen) by Emily Kirby|
And although she has been painting since as long as she can remember, eventually graduating with a BTEC Art and Design Foundation from Brighton City College in 2004, it is only three years ago that she decided to take up art as a fulltime occupation. This was after she spent some time in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia.
“The locals in the valley are suffering from the effects of ‘over-tourism’. There is also a proposed Dam for construction that will see many of them displaced,” she says, “It triggered my thought pattern, and when I went back to the UK I began to honour people’s identity. I do not want people to lose their character I would like that to be preserved.”
Of late, however, Emily’s work is inspired by a series of road trips she has taken with her father through Zambia and Malawi and she currently finds the human figure as a fascinating object of expression.Her work is on display until the end of May in a small but thoroughly absorbing solo exhibition entitled “Africa Revisited” at the Zebra Crossing Cafe in Lusaka. Here you can see specimens of her road trip series of paintings with titles such as “Road to Kafue” and "Unstopable Force”.