Emma Rodgers has long attracted equally positive publicity and her career has led her to work internationally on a number of high-profile projects, as well as many in her native Wirral and Liverpool. Rodgers took a number of key turns early on in her career, with unwavering support from colleagues and teachers. While studying for her MA in Wolverhampton she was compelled to return home because of her mother’s serious health concerns. She resumed her studies more locally but this, in turn, allowed her greater access to, and support from, the local community.
Originally trained as a ceramist and glass artist, Rodgers then developed her style in bronze, realising her clay forms as metallic works, which are often editioned. Rodgers has achieved something which few artists rarely do – combining genuine popularity and critical acclaim. The former builds on her close links within the highly supportive environment of her native city, for Rodgers makes no particular distinction between so-called ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture.
Writing about her work, the critic David Whiting has commented, that Rodgers is “…now recognised as one of Britain’s leading ceramic sculptors…” adding that her animal and human figures have “…a heightened sense of movement or tension, absorbed in the trials and dramas of existence.”
Whiting’s observations about the power and life-force of Rodgers’ depictions of nature have great validity. On seeing her work in the flesh for the first time (viewing online is no substitute for the visceral, tactile, sensory response her work engenders when in close physical proximity) I was immediately reminded of the work of Leonard Baskin, who collaborated with Ted Hughes on ‘Crow’, a sequence of poems featuring the eponymous part-creature, part-god, part-human. My thoughts were also carried to the work of Dame Elisabeth Frink and to the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, who, in ‘The Windhover’, described the movement of a bird of prey in swooping, tearing, consonantal clusters, alliterative knots and jarring syntax. The poem finds a physical equivalent in ‘Sky God 2’ where Rodgers’ kinetic manipulations of clay are transfixed in bronze.
- Dr Giles Hansen Sutherland
Art Critic, The Times