Gow Langsford Gallery is proud to present Australian artist Leah Emery’s first solo exhibition in New Zealand. This exhibition features two bodies of works; It’s Going Swimmingly (2015) and Who Told You You Were Naked (2016-current), both using cross-stitch embroidery to portray the explicit pornographic subject matter.
Emery began experimenting with this concept when she was unwillingly confronted by a sexually explicit spam email. She states: “Not having been a connoisseur of pornography before this chance encounter, yet finding myself somewhat desensitised to its content thanks to the pervasive nature of sex in the media, I began to muse on the power of the sexually explicit human form.” This encounter has now informed her artistic practice since 2005 depicting vintage pornography through the typically delicate, intricate and innocent crafting technique of cross stitch. “Topics surrounding intimacy are too often taboo, despite being necessary components of human existence. To view my work is an invitation to voyeurism; an unsettling experience of publicly viewing imagery that instinctively should be consumed privately. Upon realising the works are meticulously crafted, one is compelled to closely inspect the otherwise lewd imagery.”
In the series, It's Going Swimmingly Emery’s chosen imagery depicts couples wearing diving equipment and engaging in sexual acts under water. The cross-stitched medium creates a pixelated effect when viewed at close range as a means to blur the explicit scenes and to reduce the shock value of the imagery. Emery’s recent body of works Who Told You You Were Naked is a playful juxtaposition of the forbidden fruit narrative with a voyeuristic view beyond the purity of the fruit they are crafted within. “The viewer is forced to identify and confront their own relationship to pornography and body image in a theologically unnerving, and aesthetically inviting facade. I use my works to protest the cultural etiquette of withholding healthy public access on topics surrounding sex and intimacy quintessential to human experience.”
Leah Emery (b. 1980, Sydney) holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Queensland, Brisbane and has exhibited throughout Australia, as well as at Michael Reid Gallery; Berlin, and The Hive Gallery; Los Angeles. Emery was a finalist for The Blake Prize, UNSW Galleries, Sydney (2014), and The Laundrie National Emerging Art Prize, Brisbane (2015).