Emily Young's practice underscores her deep preoccupation with our relationship with the planet. Working with large blocks of stone – granite, marble, alabaster, chalcedony, malachite, lapis lazuli or quartz – Young creates torsos, heads or abstracted forms, with a combination of traditional carving skills and technology.
She had been drawn to jewellery making for some time. Taking the offcuts from her monumental lapis work, she began to shape and polish talismans. 'Often, they already had beautiful accidental shapes! little torsos, or heads,’ she says. 'And I thought, if I just tidy these little shapes up a bit, refne them, they could be tiny portable sculptures, full of the natural beauty both of the material and also the accidental nature of their forms.’
Young would carry scaled-down sculptures with her or give them as gifts. Following discussions with Louisa Guinness Gallery, these tactile forms were delivered to a London goldsmith who, with great skill, applied gold mounts and traces to the stones.
The artist explains: 'The large pieces that I make, some of them weighing over twenty tonnes, and these small pieces all come from the same place – from the detritus of the natural world, the unwanted stones, the broken pieces, often formed hundreds of millions – if not billions – of years ago. When worked by a human hand with a careful kind of consciousness, a kind of devotion to the planet, beauty can appear from these simplest of places. And to wear one of these pieces on your body seems a particularly easy way of being in touch with the beauty of the earth, its geology, its delicacy, its strength. The notion that we can connect more profoundly with our wounded planet is all important to me.’