Meet the Artist: Emily Rose Parris

Meet the Artist: Emily Rose Parris

Tell us about yourself 

I'm a photographer and arts educator from Kent. I love working with people and exploring arts education, adapting my teaching methods to varying needs and lives. I work closely with organisations and schools to deliver analogue and digital photography. The workshops I run vary from pinhole camera photography to digital camera techniques, each focusing on the experience of learning to create a safe and positive learning environment. I also run a small black and white community darkroom in Herne Bay, where I deliver 1:1 and group workshops focusing on teaching darkroom techniques. The space is also available to hire for those with a little more experience, bridging the gap in darkroom access in the South East area. I try to keep costs low, to ensure every day people can afford to experience the wonders of the darkroom.

Tell us about your t-shirt and sweatshirt?

These designs has been inspired by my love for the sea. The image is created using the cyanotype process, a camera-less photographic technique using UV sensitive chemicals, objects and sunlight. First, objects are laid onto the UV sensitive paper, in this case seaweed, this composition is then exposed to the sunlight which changes the colour of the chemicals. Lastly, the image is washed in tap water to fix the image and ensure it is no longer sensitive to UV light. I grew up on the North Kent coast so have been lucky enough to have had the sea around me for many years. It's only recently that I've started to engage with this environment, I began regularly sea swimming in the Summer of 2021, and with my mum, we dabbled with the idea of swimming through the winter. We carried on swimming and haven't stopped, meeting an amazing community of open water swimmers along the way. I always thought that I didn't enjoy swimming, but it turns out that I just didn't like public pools! I love being outdoors, and sea swimming has proven to be the perfect way to engage with the sea, becoming emersed in the water in all weather is just magical. These t-shirts are my way giving a little nod to the grace and power of the sea.

What are you working on currently?

I am currently taking part in an artist residency in Canterbury, the city I went to school in and grew up in. The residency is organised by an arts and well-being charity called In a Space, and is taking place above a charity shop called Ahava Community.
During this residency, I am working on refining my knowledge of pinhole cameras and truly getting to grips with the mathematics which I've been neglecting for years. I am also working on a personal project called the Wild Swim project, where I am blending my love of 35mm film photography and sea swimming, meeting others in the community and photographing them in a candid manner.

What brings you joy?

Moving my body brings me joy. I spent a lot of my teens and twenties finding it hard to fit in. Running, walking, open water swimming has proven to provide a community where I feel like I belong. This is joy to me, feeling safe.

How can people support your chosen charity?

My chosen charity, Take Off, has been running for many years within the Kent community. As a charity, they provide ongoing support for vulnerable people in need of mental health advice, support and a sense community. I've been delivering fortnightly creative workshops with them for 4 years now. If anyone would like to support Take Off, then they have a donations button on their website. Donations help to pay for running and staffing costs, materials for support groups and much more.

How can we best support the mental health of those we love?

It sounds overly simple, but talking to one another is a big one for me. We spend so much of our lives apart from loved ones due to our work commitments or geographically. If you can't be together face to face then, voice notes back and forth are a great way to keep in touch with people. Voice notes also mean you don't feel as on the spot as a phone call. My advice is not to let time fly by assuming someone will reach out to you when they need help. It's not always the case, so providing an ongoing dialogue with loved ones is so important.

Is this the first time you’ll see your work on tee? Where will you wear it?
This is the first time I'll see my work on a t-shirt! I'm very excited about it and feel really honoured to have been invited to collaborate, especially with Birdsong who have such a brilliant business ethos. I will wear mine during workshops, it'll be the perfect way to show an example of a cyanotype before people create their own prints!

How can people support you as an artist?

At the start of the pandemic I was feeling the panic, as many of us did. The majority of my income comes from the workshops I deliver, I knew that I had to adapt. I decided to try to reach my clients and students in a different way, and I decided to create cyanotype kits. The kits enabled me to deliver my teaching virtually and actually enhanced my teaching methods as it made sure people could work at their own pace in their home environments. If anyone would like to support my business, then I totally recommend looking at my Etsy shop where you can buy cyanotype kits or prepared cyanotype paper. We are living in a time where people cannot always support financially, and that's totally understandable! Another way people can support me as an artist is to like, share and comment on my social media posts. It's so easy to find your posts displaying your hard work buried amongst sponsored adverts and bigger brands.

Where can we find you online?
@thedarkroombc / @emilyroseparris / @wildswimproject

Shop our exclusive collaboration Tee and Sweatshirt now.

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