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Artist Statement

Emily O’Hara was born in Luton, UK, in 2003 and currently lives and works in Bournemouth, UK, whilst completing a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art from Arts University Bournemouth.


My practice investigates what it means to be human, with a specific interest in emotions contradictory to those we display in public. Through the paintings I give attention to moments of physical but not mental presence, in somewhat cinematic moments where internal narratives take over and we become absent.  I aim to create portraits that are beyond a literal image of a person, rather an in-depth, revealing character study, drawing out and dramatizing feelings that are invisible to the naked eye. Honesty is an underlying concept in artworks, as creating discourse surrounding truthful mental states is important to me and central to my practice.


Subjectivity is a primary concept in my paintings which aids in my fascination with relationships between artwork and audience. The works act as a microcosm of human nature, our desire to see beyond the private sphere and seek out emotional connections. Details specifically in facial expressions are the most important elements to my paintings as the attention I give to these intricacies makes the emotion of the figure increasingly realistic to the viewer, heightening the connection between subject and audience and playing on human nature to feel compassion. The static nature of figures engages the idea of looking and connecting, composition and scale is also utilised to draw the audience into the world of the painting. The ambiguity in the paintings, where the subject holds a melancholy gaze, also allows others to project their own experiences and feelings on to the figure and construct personal identity.

Due to its versatile nature, oil paint is my preferred medium. I experiment with how the medium itself can portray emotions, allowing mark making and colour to epitomise and assist in expressing feelings that cannot be shown in a figurative visual alone. I often paint scenery in simplistic forms to add more gravitas to the figures themselves, overall making my work a combination of realism and abstraction. Inspiration for my work usually arises from introspection, common occurrences in day-to-day life and interactions with those around me.

Curriculum Vitae

Lives and works in Bournemouth, UK





2021 – present            Arts University Bournemouth, UK

                                    Studying for a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree

2021                            Sir John Lawes School, Harpenden, UK

                                    A-Level Art – A*

                                    A-Level Media Studies – A*

                                    A-Level German – B



Exhibitions & Projects




                                  Swings and Roundabouts, Slades Park, Bournemouth, UK (group)

                                  An exhibition motivated by aspects of Slades Park including nature and community. The project was executed in collaboration with Active Dorset                                              and The Parks Foundation, with works being shown throughout the park area. The artist exhibited two artworks, ‘Growth’ and ‘Harmony’ which                                                were inspired by our connection to nature and to each other, as demonstrated by the local environment.


                                  Exchanging Stories, online international collaboration with The Centre for the Less Good Idea, South Africa                                          (group)

                                          A collaborative project between a select group of students from Arts University Bournemouth and The Centre for the Less Good Idea based in                                                     South Africa, working with artist Bronwyn Lace and author Upile Chisala. The aim was to think about imagery and poetry in relation to one                                                        another, turning text into moving image in order to tell a story.


                                 Me, Myself & You, Arts University Bournemouth, Bournemouth, UK (group)

                                 This exhibition was made up of mostly self-reflexive works, including self-portraiture and works concerning objects or themes personal to the                                                      artists. Other works encouraged the interaction of the viewer. Whilst the pieces were individual to the artist the show was curated so that                                                             each artwork linked to the next through theme or medium. For this exhibition the artist presented a highly introspective series of paintings                                                           titled ‘Seven Days’ comprised of self-portraits painted using a mirror one per day for a week.



Curation & Production Experience



                                Curator and installation team member - Swings & Roundabouts

                                Worked as part of a team to make curatorial decisions and plan the overall production and installation of the exhibition 


                                Writer and curator - Me, Myself & You

                                Authored the exhibition press release and accompanying documents alongside making curatorial decisions. 


Prizes & Awards


                                Shortlisted for the Women In Art Prize 

                                'Field of Flowers' was shortlisted for the Emerging Woman Painting and Photography category. 'Cogs in Mist' was also longlisted. 


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