E8: The Heart of Hackney
16 June - 15 July 2007 Fri-Sun 12-6pm
The texture of Cole's paint is anti-chalk, it's strident, eye-gouging. She sets herself to redeem blight, to 'make pretty'. The brick plinth on which Victoria Park's damaged guardians, the 'Dogs of Alcibiades', sit, doesn't appeal to her - so she fleshes it into a liquid, cocktail pink. The demonic addition, 666, gifted by some juvenile occultist, has been cartooned in Loony Toon colour. The park's lakeside café is squished into an ice-cream cone yurt, its concrete surround rendered as a cadmium-flush beach. One of the stone igloos, removed from old London Bridge, is revamped into an arbour with a young lady perched on the bench (which the artist has tactfully restored). Here is an improved city, an arcadia wrestled from gritty particulars. An old, arthritic borough ready to be face-painted in provincial gloss. E8, in the hands of Emily Cole, is a suburb of itself. 'Where are the green places?' she asks me. 'Where are the statues?' The surreal Pearly Kings and Queens. The black marble tributes to murdered policemen. The horse troughs full of Coke cans and ring pulls.
This is an extract from MAKING PRETTY: EMILY COLE AS URBAN TOURIST in the publication E8: The Heart of Hackney