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An artist's part in a £120m town tranformation

An artist's part in a £120m town tranformation

Sunday 17 April 2022

An artist's part in a £120m town tranformation

Sunday 17 April 2022


A local artist has opened up about her background and processes ahead of taking on one of her biggest projects yet - creating an installation as part of a £120m plan to regenerate two acres of town.

“I was encouraged with my artistic pursuits from a very young age, and was always made to feel that a career as an artist was possible,” Emily Allchurch says, adding that she feels “incredibly privileged” to have achieved that ambition.

Born and raised in Jersey, she studied Fine Art at the Kent Institute of Art in Canterbury and an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London.

For the past 20 years, she has been creating contemporary narratives inspired by Old Master paintings and prints using photography and digital collage.

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Pictured: Emily Allchurch says her style comes from gathering multiple photos and putting them into one. 

She was recently selected to create an art installation at one of the entrances of 'Les Sablons', a £120m development on Broad Street by local developer Le Masurier.

The vision for the area includes an apart-hotel, more than 200 homes, restaurants, shops and a walkway and courtyard linking Broad Street and Commercial Street.

Video: Drone footage of the current site, and the vision for the completed Le Sablons development.

Meaning “the windblown sand”, Les Sablons is named after the harbour wall on Commercial Street which once protected St. Helier from sand blown from the beach, and which will be maintained as an integral part of the planned developments.

Emily reflected on what she'll be bringing to the project...

How would you describe your artistic process?

My starting point is an intensive encounter with a city or place, to absorb an impression and gather a huge photo library.

From this resource, hundreds of photographs are selected and meticulously spliced together to create a seamless new space, in which my experience is compressed into a single scene.

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Pictured: Historical artworks play a huge role in her work.

The resulting photographic collages have a resonance with place, history and culture, and deal with the passage of time and the changes to a landscape, fusing contemporary life with a sense of history.

My work is primarily associated with transparencies on lightboxes, which maximises the inherent theatricality in the work, and creates a window into another world.

Where do you find inspiration?

I often draw inspiration from historical artworks that offer a social commentary on their times, for example Bruegel, Piranesi and the Japanese printmaker, Hiroshige. Adopting the compositional framework of these original images has evolved as a useful device to allow my own creativity to emerge, updating the narrative for a contemporary audience. 

Architecture and cities are a great source of inspiration for me, and I’ve made work about London, Rome, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong over the years. Recently, covid-19 restrictions forced me to look ‘Closer to Home' for inspiration, and daily walks in the townscape and countryside of East Sussex inspired a new collection of landscapes following a calendar year, not only in celebration of the natural world, but also as a reminder of its precarious fragility.

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Pictured: Allchurch has gained inspiration across all cities including Paris, Rome and Tokyo.

How did you become involved with Les Sablons?

Le Masurier appointed Chris Clifford, Director of Public & Private Gallery to assist with selecting artists to fulfil the development’s ‘Percentage for Art’ commitment.

Jason Martin and I, both Jersey-born artists, have subsequently been invited to create site-specific artworks for the space. 

Should planning permission be approved, I envisage using my photo-collage technique to explore the relationship between nature and the built environment in Jersey, past and present. I will relish the opportunity to look again, and in depth, at the landscapes and architecture I know so well, to create an ambitious artwork that will celebrate and surprise.

LISTEN...

Express spoke to Le Masurier Managing Director Brian McCarthy about the vision for Les Sablons and the wider regeneration of St. Helier...

Moving on with Les Sablons... Will St. Helier get £120m investment?

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Posted by Scott Mills on
can't she do the rest of town as well?
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