From a wearable stress ball to energising bursts of colour on canvas, Emily Rastas, or Emipeli Design, has encapsulated her post-injury experience into a sensational message of healing and love
After a severe back injury left Emily Rastas bed and couch bound in 2018, she has established a firm understanding of the inner-self in breathtaking new art and design. ‘FEEL/HEAL’ is the first solo exhibition of works by Finnish-Australian artist Emily Rastas at The Hue and Cry Collective in Geelong. The exhibition transforms the gallery into a kaleidoscopic dreamscape until 25th November.
Emipeli Design, coming from the Finnish word ‘peli’ meaning play and her own name Emily, takes on the experimental side of art into visual pieces that can not only be seen but also felt.
“Painting to me, wasn’t always in a big practice. It was more of just a hobby. And then when I injured my back, I discovered painting as a very therapeutic healing sort of meditation, emotional release. And now whenever I do get worked up, I just go back to my shed and paint. So there’s paintings all around the gallery and they all kind of have the same story.”
The inner experience of living comes to life in FEEL/HEAL as peace, anger, compassion, fear, hatred, joy, love, pain, and shame are embodied into the physical realm.
“A painting might reveal a river of sadness, a sculpture may resemble a mountain of tears, an installation might be a sanctuary of hope, and wearable art could appear as a fountain of joy.
“Considering how much I love colour, it might surprise people that I don’t like rainbows very much. For me colours arranged in order just doesn’t feel right – I court chaos. I approach my art with a free spirit and allow for happy accidents to guide my process.”
This free spirit surely does shine through the chaos of the overlapping colours and textures in Emily’s work. Abundantly clear in Emily’s sensory room – Pelispace – as a part of the exhibition, an experience designed to evoke all five senses.
“Before you go in, you take either a lemon sherbet or raspberry drop. I chose them because they’re quite nostalgic, so the touch element is walking through the soft curtains and then you’re welcome to sit on the chair which spins and just like, push your hands through like feeling texture, spin around and just watch the walls because they change colour and the artworks change when they do while listening to the soothing soundscape.”
There are multiple sections to this exhibition with themes and motifs represented through sections of ‘Denial’, ‘Acceptance’, ‘Gathering’, ‘Experimentation’ and ‘Creation’.
“The idea is just that people just observe everything and take their impression of it. I just wanted people to be able to come and feel and take their own impression because something I do love about my paintings is that everyone sees something different.”
In the Denial section of the exhibition, what truly stands out to me is the ‘Hard Pills to Swallow’ series. ‘All the Pills I’ve Had to Swallow’ is a creation of pill bottles that represent the number of prescribed medications Emily took during her recovery after her back injury. Set alongside this is an artistic representation of the living room where Emily spent her days lying there in agony. There is almost a sense of comfort to this vulnerability of the pill bottles as well as an eerie homeliness to the living room setting.
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Another amazing side to Emily’s work is her clothing design pieces. From intricately painted second-hand shoes to the eye-grabbing ‘wearable stress ball’ – a jacket made of sustainable materials with tactile elements aimed at soothing anxiety and releasing pent up stress.
As for the hanging wearable art pieces, “This is like the experimenting sort of side. These wearable art pieces are the first pieces that I made since my back injury. I did a photoshoot with them last year and for me that was such a pivotal moment where I was like, I can do these things that I convinced myself that I couldn’t do.”
FEEL/HEAL is truly a journey of one’s battle with their inner self with influences from the surrounding outside world. Walking through the space will leave you feeling transported into Emily’s world of colour and chaos.
Emily shows great diversity and potential as an artist and Emipeli Designs has very well advanced its way into one of the top local sustainable brands.
The exhibition runs till November 25th at the Hue and Cry Collective at 64-66 Ryrie Street Geelong. Don’t miss out on a truly transcendent experience.
To find out more about Emily Rastas work check out her website here.