Emily Allchurch uses photography to recreate old master paintings and prints, creating contemporary narratives. She has reworked compositions by Peter Bruegel the Elder, Utagawa Hiroshige, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Adolphe Valette and James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Her works are seamless digital collages, using hundreds of photographs taken in urban environments today. Her use of complex Photoshop techniques have amazed audiences throughout the world. As a sculpture graduate from the Royal College of Arts, her transition to the photographic form led her to use light boxes. These maximise the theatre of the works akin to a window into another world. (Notably, the image is visible when the work is not turned on and illuminates fully when switched on. Each light box has a dimmer switch so that it can be adjusted to suit the environment it is exhibited in.)
Tokyo Story (2011), pays homage to the Japanese printmaker Utagawa Hiroshige and his last great work One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (1856-58). Transposing his distinctive techniques of abstraction, vivid colouring and composition into photography, Allchurch’s recreations are a record of her own journey around Tokyo revealing a gentle social narrative for the city today. They have been shown alongside rarely seen original Hiroshige woodblock prints as part of a ten year retrospective in 2015 from an expanded touring show. Allchurch’s celebrated Tokyo Story and Tokaido Road series, which pay homage to the 19th century Japanese printmaker Hiroshige. Produced as light boxes, they reveal not only the changing nature of the topography but also the changes to Japanese society and customs.
The complex photographic images have a resonance with place, history, culture and deal with passage of time and the changes to a landscape, fusing contemporary life with a sense of history.
Her newly commissioned work for Manchester Art Gallery based on Albert Square, Manchester by French Impressionist Valette, creating a dialogue between the Edwardian and contemporary city. A new artwork inspired by Breugel’s The Tower of Babel explores the role of urban areas and architecture in our lives.
Urban Chiaroscuro (2007), takes inspiration from Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s series of etchings Carceri d’Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons) c.1745-61. Allchurch uses her unique digital collage technique to explore ideas of social restriction, order and control, experienced today in the European cities of London, Rome and Paris. The series received international critical acclaim and was featured in Portfolio #47 and FMR White edition 2008 amongst many other publications.
Her works are in many international, public and private collections including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Nouveau Musee National de Monaco, Financial Services Authority, Aspen Re Insurance, Galleria Parmeggiani and Charing Cross Hospital. Her work has been chosen has part of the Royal Academy's Summer Show in 2014 and 2015.