Emma’s work takes off in a new direction

Published: 2 March 2017 at 16:46

Emma Copley's New York Knicks painting

Anglia Ruskin student captures an #unforgettable trip to New York for BA advert

Cambridge artist Emma Copley enjoyed her own #unforgettable experience after taking a starring role in a new advert for British Airways.

The airline’s latest social media campaign encourages people to share their own #unforgettable memories, and Emma was commissioned to illustrate one such story; a father and son’s trip to the United States to watch the New York Knicks basketball team.

The Anglia Ruskin University MA in Fine Art student painted a scene showing Robert and his son Connor watching the game at Madison Square Garden – and Emma’s artwork was the central theme of the advert.

Emma explained:

“I was told all about their trip but only met them for the first time on the day the painting was revealed to them. I was so nervous because I was not sure they would like it.

“Robert and Connor were really pleased with it and felt it captured their day. I tried to paint it from the father’s perspective, watching his son enjoy the game they had travelled so far to see. The trouble is, the Knicks actually lost the game that night, so I had to try to figure out how to depict Connor enjoying the game and his disbelief as his team lost.”

From sketches to completion, Emma’s painting took around ten days to complete, and she admits that the project was enormous fun, even if the subject of the painting took her slightly out of her comfort zone.

Emma, who took part in the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year competition in 2015, added:

“The painting was a real challenge because it’s not like anything I’ve ever done. At times I paint images that evoke my own personal memories, but this was the first time I’ve been commissioned to express someone else’s memory in an emotive way. A memory of a basketball game no less! 

“I don’t follow basketball, but Connor’s love for the New York Knicks and the sport was really contagious. I love the work of New York artist George Bellows, especially his boxing paintings, and I tried to create the feeling of a crowd in motion and the atmosphere generated inside a large stadium like Madison Square Garden.  

“To be honest I was quite surprised to be asked to do this commission. I had so much fun working on this project though, and perhaps it might lead to other interesting commissions and projects in the future.”

Emma, who was born in Ireland and grew up in the US, has worked as an exhibition organiser, arts administrator, teacher and artist since graduating with a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001. In addition to studying for a Masters in Fine Art at Anglia Ruskin, Emma also teaches evening courses at Hills Road Sixth Form College.

Emma has recently been featured by the Saatchi Art Blog and Aesthetica Magazine, and was named as one of Artists and Illustrators Magazine’s “Painters to watch in 2017”. Her next project will be an ambitious wall painting as part of the Sustainability Art Prize, which will go on show in the Ruskin Gallery on 30 March. More information about Emma’s work is available at http://www.emmacopley.com/