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In the frame: Emily Allchurch

Former sculptor Emily Allchurch splices together hundreds of photographs to offer a modern interpretation of old master scenes

Emily Allchurch sources and photographs buildings and urban landscapes, which she then uses to recreate old master scenes from a contemporary perspective.

As befitting a former sculptor, Allchurch uses the historic artwork as armature on which to build her collages. Meticulously splicing together hundreds of photographs, she creates an immensely detailed new fictional space underpinned by a strong social narrative.

Inspired by Piranesi’s ‘Ancient Circus of Mars’ (1756), ‘Ghost Towers (after Piranesi)’ (2018) is constructed from architectural fragments of sites across the UK, including the Glasgow Necropolis, Highgate Cemetery and Nine Elms.

The piece has a poignant message about housing in cities and the increasing inequality of wealth.

Every part is in sharp focus, giving the collages a hyper-realistic, three-dimensional quality

In the background, luxury apartments lie empty (‘ghost towers’), as the investors they were built for turn their backs on the UK in the uncertainty of Brexit. In the foreground, in stark contrast, a tent city forms among the tombstones of an old cemetery.

The presentation of Allchurch’s work is thoughtful. Every part is in sharp focus, giving the collages a hyper-realistic, three-dimensional quality; they’re fairly large scale, which is essential given the detail; and, when presented in lightboxes, their theatricality is maximised. They’re fascinating works that demand a long look.

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An edition of ‘Ghost Towers (after Piranesi)’ has been acquired for the new Societe Generale Art Collection. Curated by Lanny Walker, the collection presents a unique curatorial brief which showcases the work of female artists either working or practising in the UK. For more information emilyallchurch.com