Queensland College of Art alumnus Emma Lindsay is intent on saving the planet – camera, easel and paintbrush in hand.
The environmental artist travels the globe documenting endangered species, from the icy tundras of Greenland to the high desert country of the United States and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
The artworks recreate Emma’s up-close encounters with threatened, endangered and extinct species during her visits to national parks, wildlife refuges, zoos and natural history museums. She aims to capture a sense of wonder at the many and varied species that roam our planet.
“My work isn’t about making people feel guilty and pointing fingers,” she said.
“It’s about inspiring change and appealing to people’s empathy.
“I’m so in love with our planet and we don’t have a plan B, so we need to take care of it.
“This work lets me align my life values and my artistic practice.”
A different perspective
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) graduate took part in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps initiative in Brisbane earlier this year, an experience that has allowed her to build a network of fellow eco-warriors.
“It was First Nation leaders, representatives from industry, government, entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists, artists – all of us talking about what is being done to combat climate change,” she said.
“My particular interest is in endangered species, and recovery can sometimes seems like an impossible task.
“But it was so valuable as an artist to make connections with people who are trying to solve the same problems from different perspectives.
“I’m looking at partnering with industry on a number of projects and I’ve set up an Instagram account called @greenartivists to connect artists and creatives working in environmental, climate, science or sustainability projects.”
Making dreams a reality
Emma’s work has also caught the eye of music superstars Alicia Keys and her husband Swizz Beatz (Kaseem Dean), who recently awarded her a grant as part of their TDC 20 St(art)up.
The power couple are the founders of the Dean Collection, which has amassed an enviable collection of contemporary art from around the world. The celebrity couple worked with a curatorial team to pick 20 artists around the world, each of whom received a $5,000 grant.
The grant helped fund Emma’s recent exhibition, Life on Earth, at Metro Arts. The exhibition featured video works, photography and paintings from her global field trips over the past decade.
“Being one of just 20 artists chosen was an amazing opportunity,” she said.
“They were looking for projects with heart and integrity, and I think they saw that my work is a real labour of love.
“Receiving this grant really lifted my game, and it set this dream project into motion.
“This was the best show of my life.”
‘This journey started at the QCA’
Emma credits her studies at the Queensland College of Art with helping her find her niche in the art world.
“This journey all started at the QCA.
“I was struggling with portraits and landscapes, then a chance conversation with one of my lecturers about a rare species called the night parrot led to a massive project on extinct animals, and that set me on this path.
“My lecturers encouraged me to create work that I was passionate about and was true to what I value.”