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Emily Bates

Emily Bates (b. 1970, Basingstoke) graduated from the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. She became known in the 1990s for her ‘impossible’ dresses, knitted from human hair. In 1997, she started working with photography during an artist residency in Amsterdam. She later travelled to Japan, staying on the island of Amami-Ōshima, in the East China Sea, on three separate occasions. While there, Bates was drawn to the island’s subtropical forest, its culture, the way of life of its aging population and the shamanic traditions maintained primarily by its female inhabitants. The artist came to develop a relationship with these women, who were trying their best to preserve these ancestral traditions, and slowly integrated herself into their community. Guided by her hosts, she explored sacred sites in remote jungle areas and created a series of photographs entitled The sky is glowing with the setting sun (2012). This polyptych is part of that series. For this artistic and documentary project, Bates chose colour to portray the island’s inhabitants and their everyday lives, a choice which, according to the artist, ‘creates a warmth and intimacy, and reveals more of the decay, fading and demise of the community’. On the other hand, ‘[t]he black and white accentuates the landscape’s magical quality. They are mysterious, inaccessible, timeless and all enduring’.


  1. Emily Bates The sky is glowing with the setting sun, 2012

    Tirages gélatino-argentique
    150 x 120 chacune
    Production et Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Acquisition 2012
    © Photo : Rémi Villaggi | Mudam Luxembourg

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