Finished with one-of-a-kind furnishings, intricate portraits and an open, stylish kitchen, Emma Woollard’s airy apartment is both an art studio and a home. The walls are covered with vividly coloured portraits, each painted with impressive attention to detail and lifelike style that has been practised and perfected over her incredible career. Emma’s ability to bring people to life in her oil paintings is not her only talent; she also has an excellent eye for fashion and the most enviable collection of boots we’ve ever seen. We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Emma catching up on everything from her early career as a model in the fashion industry, to the biggest lesson she has learnt to date.
I grew up in a family of artists with constant artistic stimulation from an early age. Both of my parents are art directors in the film industry, so it’s always been in me. In between modelling jobs I used to assist my artist sister on large murals and painted portraits for films for my mother. I had always planned to go to drama school and pursue an acting career, but after drama school the painting took over. I began painting portraits of friends and then people started to commission me and it just grew from there.
I fell into modelling reluctantly in my late teens between art and drama classes and ended up doing it far longer than I ever intended. What started out as a holiday job turned into a fairly lucrative career that took me all over the world. I’ve lived in Paris, Milan, NY, Tokyo, met incredible people and made friends for life - so I’m very grateful.
My mother was extremely stylish, always draped in designer numbers - a total fashion victim. I love clothes and fashion but don’t think my style has changed that much in all these years; I’ve always liked an eclectic mix of classic vintage with a few designer pieces. I’m drawn to colour and patterns and tend to wear more feminine dresses and skirts than trousers which is why Pink City Prints suits my style perfectly
I loved my last studio so much that I used to dream about living in it, surrounded by all my paints and canvases. It was huge and dreamy at the top of an old Victorian School building. I would stay very late and used to get a bit creeped out leaving the building late at night. Eventually, we all had to move out when they sold the building so I put most of my studio stuff into storage and took what I needed home. I actually love working and living here now, it has high ceilings and lots of daylight, and I can work all day and night if I want without ever getting spooked or the disruption of having to pack up and leave. I use odourless spirits so no strong turpentine smells. I store large canvases and other things I can get when I need them from my storage. The only drawback is getting distracted by domestic pottering and limited space. But so far I’ve managed well and produced the largest canvases I’ve ever done here. This move happened just before COVID so I was perfectly set up for lockdown - and like many artists had a very productive time then.
‘Pink Man’ is one of my favourites. Painted spontaneously in Greece from memory of a beautiful man in pink I once saw walking through the Moroccan foothills. It’s a painting that most represents me and has personal symbolism to do with a hole versus being whole. It was painted at a particularly creatively free and liberated time in my life.
Presenting my portrait of Dr Sekina Bakare for the ‘Portraits for NHS Heroes’ initiative to her and seeing it on the news and on a huge billboard in Piccadilly Circus.
Take risks - step out of your comfort zone. The best work, most memorable experiences, fruitful adventures and passionate loves have happened when I’ve taken the risk to follow my own instinct rather than follow the rules.
Firstly, let me just say, my wardrobe is full of Pink City Prints, I am a big fan. The colours, patterns and styles suit me perfectly. My favourite dress from AW22 is the Midnight Tiger Mumbai dress. It looks great with my Stella McCartney platform boots and possibly a vintage YSL belt.
Follow Emma on Instagram: @emmawoollard
Shop Emma's edit HERE
Photography: Lily Bertrand-Webb