Why use text in art?

by Emily Pitts on November 28, 2011

in Love & Lust, Other Things, Provocative, Text Art

I am frequently asked about why I use words in my artworks.

I love language – its construction, its foibles and the complex layers of meaning that can lie within a single phrase or sentence.  In 2000 I did an art foundation course and it was then that I started making work with text – using images with juxtaposed words – investigating the engendering of objects through single words – how meaning, and what people see, change according to words.   At the time it was also a way of creating a more democratic art – outside of the gallery, being able to have a voice within art, but unconstrained by rigid societal norms of the gallery space.  This still holds true to some degree – working with text liberates me, as an artist.  I feel that I can define my own parameters and develop my own conventions.

The way that I work with text and how I develop and create work, revolves around an idea, – perhaps a profound truth or question that is generated by an action or activity or place that I find myself in.  Sometimes the text comes first – the words swim around my head and I re-work them, think about what it is that the words mean and convey, or what they could convey depending on how they are presented.  In this instance, where I have the words, I will search through a whole arsenal of materials and visual representations, sometimes for weeks.  Sometimes I don’t know how to make what I have in my head, so it stews and I have to be patient and wait for the opportunity to present itself to me to finish the idea.

In contrast at other times I can see a material and a light pings on in my head and I think ‘I can say something with that, I can use it and develop some words to say what I mean’ – the two go together: the material and the words.  At other times again, I have a thought and to describe the thought visually I work hard to bring some words to it – more often than not I have to pare down and keep minimising – too many words saying nothing.  Again, the material and the words go together – they sit hand in hand and evolve.

There is a definite bombardment of our visual landscape with text; words instructing us to ‘do this’ and ‘do that’, telling us who we are and what we should be doing – very much instructional.  I think that’s why I prefer pared-down phrases and short sentences – really simple to look at, but belying a complexity under the surface – the saying is that a picture paints a thousand words, but sometimes, a sentence can pose a thousand questions – it just depends what the words are and what they’re make of – they’re a three dimensional thing to me.  Even works like the ‘flat’ laser-cut perspex installations, which I made for the Chorlton Arts Festival earlier this year, have a three dimensional quality that was really important when I was developing the idea and making them – those edges are intrinsic – the colour produced at the edges of the perspex are integral to the reading of the text and the layers of meaning within the installation.

I suppose that the text is so familiar to us that, for me, it’s too good a tool not to use to challenge and re-frame whatever it is that you want to discuss as an artist.

In terms of materials, I like to investigate and make materials look different to how I have seen them before – that’s a challenge in itself – to me and to people looking at it.  I am very regularly asked specifically how I make things and I think in that there is a deeper discussion about pushing boundaries personally.  I run art classes and as we talk about materials and the students see work in the studio it dawns that experimentation is the way to explore, develop and become more enlightened – I think that about life beyond art.

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Open Studio Events

by Emily Pitts on November 6, 2011

in Uncategorized

Following the success of the Buy Art Fair, I will be holding two Open Studios at my home studio on 23rd November & 1st December:  4-7pm.  Please drop by and take a look at more of my work, if you’ve seen it before, or some of my work if you haven’t.


Directions to the Buy Art Fair

by Emily Pitts on October 29, 2011

in Uncategorized

Owing to a venue change over each of the last three years there has been some confusion about the location of the venue for this year’s fair, so here’s a description:


Quay House

Quay Street


M3 3BE

If you get lost find the Opera House – Quay House is to the left of the Opera House as you look at it.  It’s very close to the Museum of Science and Industry too.  Here’s the Google Map: Quay House

Coming to Buy Art Fair on the Bus?

The easiest bus to get is the Free Metroshuttle – No.2 or 3.  No. 3 drops on Quay Street and no. 2 drops outside the Museum of Science and Industry.  As you look at the museum, walk right – down to the end of Lower Byrom Street.  When it meets Quay Street, Quay House is in front of you to the right – turn right onto Quay street and the entrance is along the road.   You can ask the driver to direct you towards the Opera House too.  MetroShuttle Pocket Guide


If you’re driving the cheapest parking I’ve found is £5 a day on Duke Street – follow the road down past Ellis Brigham (on the right) and turn left underneath the arches.


Give me a call if you’re lost and I will do my best to direct you to the venue: 07870 360213 – sometimes only a human voice can get you to where you need to be!!


Buy Art Fair 2011

by Emily Pitts on October 27, 2011

in Art Exhibitions, Latest For Sale, News, Offers

This week sees the fourth Buy Art Fair, taking place at Spinningfields in Manchester.  If you’re in the market for some high quality art at an affordable price then this is the place for you.

Galleries and individual artists from across the country are coming together to show you the very best in original and affordable art, from limited editiion prints, to acrylic paintings, conceptual artworks and sculpture.  There is something for everyone.

Preview night: Thursday 27th October 5-9pm

Opening Times:

Friday 28th October: 11-7

Saturday 29th October: 11-6

Sunday 30th October: 11-5

Venue: Situated directly adjacent to the Opera House and on the free Metroshuttle bus route, the Fair couldn’t be easier to get to.

Address: Quay House, Quay Street, Manchester.  M3 3AQ

Win Free Tickets

I have 5 pairs of free tickets to give away to the first people to email me:  hello@emilypitts.com.  Get in quick for your chance to see the best art of the UK for free!

Come and visit me at stand 18 with code ‘Cake is Heaven’ for a 5% discount on purchases of my work.

I look forward to seeing you at the Fair.


4 Week Class Starting September 5th

This class will run every Monday evening for 4 weeks, for beginners and those who have some experience of drawing and painting.  The course will introduce you to the basics of acrylic painting, making use of sketching, investigations in colour and a range of techniques to develop your own methods of creative expression.

Class Size: 4 people maximum.  The class will be small and offer one to one advice and support for you to develop your practice as an individual.  Each week we will take a single object or subject and focus on using different ways to produce a creative response.  Below are some images of the art class currently running at Inspire in Levenshulme every Friday.

Venue: The class will run at my home studio in Denton:  3, Balmoral Drive, M34 2JT.

Cost: £70, including materials (paint, paper, pencils and any other materials required.  There will be an additional cost for canvas, if you choose to produce work on canvas during the course).  Payment can be made by Bank transfer or cash by August 26th.

How to sign up: If you would like to join the class, please email me at hello@emilypitts.com.  You will be sent a confirmation email with joining instructions and details of payment.


Artwork in Acrylic, inspired by the bright lights of the city of Manchester, with reference to the environmental impact we have on our landscape.  In vibrant colours, the piece encourages closer inspection, drawing in the viewer and tempting a touch.


[click here TO BUY / more info …]


New York – Wall Painting

by Emily Pitts on June 24, 2011

in Art Commission, Inspired by...

Following an enquiry I was asked to complete this commission on a bedroom wall, for a Manchester-based client.  After an initial consultation, I created a series of mock-ups for the client, to give an idea of the type of image which might work in the space.  As the client was unsure of colour, I developed a series of colour samples from which the client chose their preferred image and colour.

The wall, sized approx. 2.3metres x 2metres, sits within a bedroom unit and is the backdrop for the bed.  The commission, which took approximately four days to plan and complete, has been well received.

If you would like a consultation on the colour, design and pattern in your home, or if you are interested in commissioning a wall painting or canvas painting, please contact me:  Contact Page


A few months ago I was contacted to complete an artwork commission to celebrate the wedding anniversary of a couple.  The piece focused on the time and place that the couple met and gave me the opportunity to create a unique marker of not only their wedding anniversary but also their way of meeting.

The anniversary was their second, which is traditionally marked by Cotton.  Taking this material and using the place they met as a guide, I undertook research about the place, the event and the weather, which culminated in the piece you can see below.  The piece is a summation of the weather, the place and the explosion of excitement that ensued from the meeting.  I used significant colours from the wedding to symbolise the importance of this meeting to their anniversary.

Here’s what Phil, the commissioner of the artwork, had to say:

“I contacted Emily ahead of my anniversary in order to get her to create something made from cotton. With very little direction Emily created a wonderful picture on canvass that really summed up the day my wife and I met! To say I was showered in brownie points was an understatement. Excellent work!”

If you would like an individual artwork for someone special, please feel free to contact me for an informal chat: Contact Page.



For the duration of the Chorlton Arts Festival a selection of my work incorporating text will be on exhibition at the Nip and Tipple in Chorlton, Manchester.

The works span from 1999 to present, offering a precursor for other work being developed for the Buy Art Fair in October at Spinningfields in Manchester City Centre and for private commissions.

The work exemplifies my interest in language, communication and materials, exploring issues and themes that include identity, culture, relationships, gender and mental health.  The use of text is minimal, bringing into question meaning and legibility, whilst the scope of the breadth of the works challenges the notion of the artist maintaining a single identifiable form throughout their work.  One work includes cutting of the canvas, whilst another uses hair, an ephemeral and tactile material.  These investigate both their individual themes and the wider theme of boundaries between a ‘painting’ and ‘sculpture’. At what point is the line between the two crossed and why do we feel a need to put art into such narrowly defined boxes?

If you’re interested in Art and text or just like the idea of perusing the work with a beer or coffee in hand, make your way to the Nip and Tipple, Upper Chorlton Rd from 19th to 30th May.

You may also be interested in the discussion on 23rd May entitled Wordy Women – 7.30pm at Chorlton Library.


For the Chorlton Arts Festival I will be undertaking a discussion with fellow artist Jackie Wylie and Illustrator Caroline Coates on the subject of Women, Art and Text.  We will present a brief history of the use of text in art and go on to discuss the use of text in our own works and that of other prominent women artists from across the globe.

Monday 23rd May 2011:   7.30pm

Chorlton Library and afterwards at Nip and Tipple on Upper Chorlton Rd

Here’s the listing from the Chorlton  Arts Festival website:

“Emily Pitts, Manchester Artist, will host a presentation, outlining a brief history of the use of text in art, with particular reference to women and text, followed by an open discussion with the audience. Emily will be joined by a panel of artists to explore both current and historical practice and the way in which women have taken up the mantel of renowned conceptual artists to develop this medium as a platform for social and political comment. They will present and make reference to their own works and those of artists past and present, including Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger and Lawrence Weiner. The presentation and talk will last approximately 90 minutes and will be followed by a gathering at local bar The Nip and Tipple.”

To find out more about the Chorlton Arts Festival go to the Festival website, where there’s information about the 200+ performances, events and exhibitions.

Call 07870 360213 for more information