A plein-air painter from northern NSW is being recognised for her interpretation of the Australian landscape.

Story Therese Hall

A decade ago, Lismore contemporary artist Emily Imeson was stacking shelves in a Sydney pharmacy. Within a year, the 18-year-old was on the phone to her father asking his advice on a career path. “I was a bit lost,” she says. 

Her dad, Jeff Imeson – a retired country police officer – suggested that she study art. Emily recalls that fatherly advice fondly. “My dad is the reason I studied art,” she says. “He and Mum have been so supportive.” 

These days, when Emily visits Sydney it’s to host annual solo exhibitions at Saint Cloche gallery in Paddington. She spends the rest of her time travelling around Australia in her Toyota troopy, painting ‘en plein-air’ in the remote locations that inspire her. 

Emily’s journey from directionless teen to emerging contemporary painter took in a Visual Arts diploma (Southbank Institute of Technology, Brisbane) and a Visual Arts degree (Southern Cross University, Lismore). In 2016, with her formal training behind her, she committed to becoming a full-time painter. “I’ve been lucky to know what I want to spend my time doing,” she says. “Having direction is quite fantastic.” 

Since then, Emily has steadily built up her career, winning awards and scholarships and holding regular solo shows. In 2019, she won the Macquarie Group Emerging Art Prize, and in 2020 she was selected by artist Lucy Culliton as one of five recipients of the 2020 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. “Emily nailed the outback landscape,” Lucy says. “She has good use of colour and form, and she’s imaginative.”

In her art practice, Emily explores the connection between people and the natural environment. “My practice is very much about being immersed in the landscape and how that impacts the human psyche,” she says. “My work is fuelled by recollections, sustained by emotions and abstracted through processes of remembering.” 

This story excerpt is from Issue #136

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2021