London-based Canadian artist Émilie-Christine Newman has exhibited and performed works across Europe and North America. She completed her MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2016, earning her the Bernice Goodwin Prize for excellence in performance.
Emilie’s practice is highly gestural and built around themes of loss, mortality and rebirth. It has served as a means of expressing her experiences and frustrations with life, including a variety of chronic illnesses and mental health issues and how she began to overcome them.
She was born in Toronto, Canada to a French-Canadian mother and a German-Polish WWII-refugee father. During her upbringing, she was encouraged to try all sorts of pursuits which led to her being classically trained in the piano and the viola along with several German folk instruments. This musical training and interest would eventually lead her to be a vocalist in several extreme metal bands in the Toronto scene. The time spent performing and perfecting her harsh vocal style would resurface as her Fine Art practice would eventually become heavily performance- and sound-based.
During her last years in high school, she began to suffer severely from several mental health issues including bipolar disorder and anxiety. These cases culminated in having to graduate early from high school, a possibility thanks to her academic excellence, because her mental health had deteriorated to the point where continuing with her studies was medically inadvisable.
She attended Ryerson University in Toronto where she would earn a BFA in Photography in 2013. During that time she would be forced to spend time in an in-patient programme at a psychiatric ward for severe mental health issues. Throughout her time at Ryerson, she also studied the History of Medicine and the History of Madness among other things. These interests, along with her first-hand experience of mental and physical illnesses, would end up informing the direction of her practice as it applies to the concepts of physical and mental decay.
When the opportunity to move to London on a Tier 5 visa (under 30s working permit) arose, she took it almost on a whim, wishing to see what life was like in the UK. It was during her first few months in London that she met her partner Danica (for whom she created “The Beach is Calling and We Must Go [for Danica]” that is featured in this exhibition) and they have been together ever since. In 2016, she earned her MFA in Fine Art Media from the Slade School of Fine Art, including the Bernice Goodwin Prize for excellence in performance for degree show piece "By the Fault of None, All Begins to Fail".
During the latter half of her MFA, she began a solo improvised Noise project called luxul. This has become a cornerstone of her art and has helped move her practice, which had always been about her own experiences, to one created in the moment, without premeditation, using her body, mind, voice, and movement as the medium through which the work is created.