‘The Art of Surviving’ - How farming tragedy has influenced Emma’s work

A Northern Ireland artist will consider her rural upbringing and the influence living and working on a farm, that claimed the lives of her father and two brothers, has had on her art.
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Emma Spence: The Art of Surviving, will air on BBC One Northern Ireland on Tuesday 8 February.

This is a deeply personal and reflective documentary about Emma Spence, a former Young Artist of the Year, whose work has been influenced by her family’s farming traditions and also by the tragedy that befell them a decade ago.

Emma, who grew up outside Hillsborough, tragically lost her father Noel and brothers Nevin (22) and Graham (30) in a slurry tank accident on the family farm in September 2012.

Artist, Emma SpenceArtist, Emma Spence
Artist, Emma Spence

The documentary is part of BBC Northern Ireland’s Season of Arts and Emma will explore how her work conveys the juxtaposition between traditional pastoral landscapes and the realities of farming the land, as seen through the eyes of those who live and work in it.

Emma will consider wider themes such as how grief and trauma can be reflected and processed through art.

Through Emma, viewers will be able to consider how art represents rural life; how land and agriculture remain closely linked to Northern Ireland cultural identity; how art can be used by both artists and audiences to represent and understand tragedy and loss, especially within the context of post-conflict Northern Ireland; and concepts of resilience and regrowth in both our personal lives and the natural world.

The film is a NPE Media production for BBC Northern Ireland and is on BBC One Northern Ireland, Tuesday 8 February, at 10.35pm.

It will also be available on BBC iPlayer.