Sydney based artist Emily Hunt has devised a series of heaving ceramic creatures and statues in a new collection entitled Soiled – a writhing army of wicked and grotesque figures forged from glazed French porcelain and stoneware. The warped characters are set in deep brown, sandy orange and jade green and were inspired by a collection of archeological ornaments that rest atop Sigmund Freud’s desk at his last residence in London, now the Freud Museum. The relics include bronzes from the Middle Age, Egyptian funerary items and Greek Hellenistic statues. “It had a profound effect on me,” says Hunt. “However, over the course of making the objects they evolved into distinct characters.”

Hunt is interested in human vices, the bad, the ugly and the degenerate. “I enjoy looking at prints of the 16th century,” she explains. “In particular the woodcuts and engravings produced by a small group of secular, satirical artists from Germany and the Netherlands. Their works seems incredibly modern, and reflect age-old human weakness; greed, gluttony, stupidity and intemperance.”

The pieces sharing the title grotto/relic/ruin are stacked sculptures designed to represent the layers of the subconscious. “Producing these was time consuming and ordered, because they had to have a structural integrity,” says Hunt. “So in a sense at one point, I had to let go and ‘get loose’”. The resulting bulging-eyed people are blemished and even unsettling upon close inspection – but come together as a strangely beautiful whole. “My work can be beautiful on its surface,” Hunt adds. “But more difficult and unsettled in its detail and subject.”

Soiled opens at The Commercial on Friday 13 December. Exhibition continues until 18 January, 2014.

148 Abercrombie Street, Redfern

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