At once friendly and unnerving, Troy Emery’s mythological creatures play with our imagination, creating a psychedelic, dream-like environment in which our perceptions are blurred. We’re left unsure but at ease, curious yet wary. Reflecting on the role of animals in our culture, their alluring pelts amplify our desire for the decorative, as he says, in “a camp interpretation of the way skins and furs are cherished and fetishised”. Further subverting our ideals, Troy’s use of mass-produced ‘craft’ materials challenges their prescribed value in creating artworks of wonder and magic.

The exhibition was opened by Louis Le Vaillant , Director & Curator of The Johnston Collection.

Troy Emery is an artist based in Melbourne and has an art practice encompassing sculpture, painting, drawing, and embroidery. He refers to his sculptures as ‘fake taxidermy’ because they mimic the process of taxidermy without actually producing a real result. The particular animals he chooses to work with fall between being exotic and easily recognisable. 

Troy’s work is held in various private and public collections, including The National Gallery of Victoria, Art Bank Australia Collection, City of Townsville Art Collection, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery Collection, and Deacon Art Museum. Troy is represented by Martin Browne Contemporary Gallery in Sydney.

Louis Le Vaillant Takes A Tour With Troy Emery Through The Exhibition ight Vision

In preparation for the opening of night vision at Craft, Louis Le Valliant, who opened the exhibition, talked with the artist Troy Emery about his artwork.

Below is Louis' speech from the opening night, 12 July 2018.

Troy said that I could say if I didn't like the show, but I do. Walking around the exhibition with Troy we were welcomed to Craft by the question that had been most posited by visitors over the last week: What are they called, what are their names, and what are they?

Standing next to Big Black Cat we talked on making. Big Black Cat, like many of his current works is made of the most terrifically long, open-ended, that is not looped tassel fringe trims. Troy delights in these long fringes and wondered why these ludicrously long lengths of tassel fringe trim are being made, apparently without any specific purpose in mind by the manufacturer. Purpose unknown on the manufacturers part, and packaging, but a purpose has been found and bound by Troy.

Big Black Cat, these long lengths disguise not only the way in which Troy covers and coats the reworked form but also the way the fringing can disguise the manner in which Troy meticulously lays out, and plays with, the lengths of fringing. We are captivated and enraptured by the materials and made forms. Disguise and camouflage make the forms disappear into sculptural lumps.

We approach these sculptural lumps with the understanding that these things are not made of any natural fibres – or anything natural thing at all. They celebrate the pre-made, the artificial and the exaggerated colours have the intensity that only artificial and ready made materials can and do offer.

Yet, bewilderingly, we are conflicted and choose to see Troy’s materials as rich and luminous, and readily accept the intentional allure of the brilliant excesses we see surrounding us.

Perhaps these sculptural lumps are decorative, and you just take them at sculptural lump value. Yet, in the nature of the making of the work there can, or we may be, offered no meaning. These night vision objects could ultimately be seen as a decorative, ordinary without plot, simple, and as is. Devoid of meaning or narrative unless we guess, imagine and assume what the sculptural lumps might be.

So we talked on meaning. If these objects are not decorative, can they hold meaning – or at least be a metaphor? In everything we do, I suspect meanings come from our own knowledge, and at times the personal connections we make, and can place onto these sculptural lumps.

Meanings for Troy’s work are imagined with a knowledge of contemporary art and artists, and museums and their historical collections, and animals from logical to irrational places and where all ages of objects and animals; art and artists; past, present and future converge.

Night vision, presents a veiled experience of the many ways, people can intuitively and emotionally relate and project onto countless artforms and, in this case, these sculptural lumps. You can cloak the lumps with any meanings you want.

I think any meanings can embody the sensibilities of night vision – the ideas of feelings and emotions and how these inform our ideas of relationship to the matter and mythologies of animals and our place alongside them, or what we think craft or art is.

And in the end what of the questions that had been mots voiced by those visitors: What are they called, what are their names, what are they?

Troy has achieved a wonderful blurring of almost everything, allowing for a wealth of ideas and concepts to emerge, re-engaging us with making and meaning, though what he makes and presents here, tonight. Night vision is a diverse experience, at once and at all times lyrical, quasi-scientific, poetic, puzzling, engaging, luxurious, confrontational and alluring.

Full of dichotomies and differences, Troy perceives and works between worlds, and asks the same of us. Troy suggests new and future ideas through sculptural things and asks us, through various irrationalities and emotions, to question our many and varied relationships with material culture through his wonderful night vision.

He moves freely within an ever-expanding field of artistic, not decorative, issues and cultural inspirations, mythologies and meanings. Troy places himself within a culture of bold and lively individualism in a manner that is entirely his own and resonates of this time. Incongruity and exuberance pervade his work, as Troy recollects, revitalises and provokes traditional accounts and values, of simple making and grand opulence.

In other words, not decorative but very fine art.