Emerson Mayes

Current Collection

Emerson Mayes (b. 1972) is an award-winning Yorkshire painter and printmaker who produces honest and uncontrived work reflecting his obvious passion for both drawing and the natural world. 


These prints are part of an ongoing body of work in which Emerson depicts his ‘direct response’ to the wide variety of ‘feather’ and ‘fur’ found in the United Kingdom – fauna which has become the backdrop to his daily life during the recent ‘lockdowns’ and restrictions. In the resulting monotypes Emerson tries to capture fleeting moments of quiet, solitude and peace – rarities during such a troubling time. 


During his career, Emerson has won a number of major awards and has exhibited in many solo shows, major group exhibitions and art fairs across the country and in London. His work can be found in public, private and corporate collections worldwide including the National Trust and the House of Lords. 


For ten years Emerson worked closely with the Northern-based visual arts charity New Light. Starting initially as a mentor to the award winning artist, he then became a committee member, then a Director and finally CEO. He stepped down from his role in 2019 to once again fully concentrate on his own work.


‘Feather and Fur’ – 100 works in 100 days


What does an artist do when the year begins firmly ‘locked down’, with galleries closed and exhibitions that were optimistically postponed now sensibly cancelled? That was a question I had to ask myself when I walked into my studio one cold January morning.


I have been fortunate that in the twenty-five years I have been a practising artist, I have never had an empty exhibition schedule but, even though galleries were cautiously pencilling things in for the latter half of the year, for once I had no deadlines to hit for a good few months. I was determined to see this as a positive and in some way use the time to experiment (some might even say play), without any pressure to produce finished work. But I know myself well enough to realise that even this would need some sort of structure to be successful. Therefore, I set myself the challenge of producing ‘100 works over 100 days’ – to start on day one and see where I ended up on day 100.


The first day resulted in a very small drawing on glass of a Grey Heron, which somebody commented looked like a monotype. ‘Why not’ I thought to myself. I haven’t done any monotypes since my art college days but, as a painter who also does some printmaking, it was something that appealed. Little did I know that the next ninety-nine would all be monotypes; all I can say in my defence is that it is a process that is pretty addictive!


Not all of them worked, and many ended up in the bin, but what this exhibition does is bring together the fifty most successful which together represent a period of intense work - and probably the start of an ongoing obsession with monotype!


A few words about the technique:


I always start by using a large brush and quickly covering a printing plate with oil paint and then wiping away with brushes, clothes, fingers, and anything else that comes to hand to produce the image. Some darker areas are worked back in, but I always want to keep the plate as fresh as possible in an attempt to capture the essence of each animal.


The plate is placed onto a printing press and dampened paper laid over the top. It is then printed and the magical moment every printmaker works for takes place: peeling back the paper to see the image. Some disappoint, whilst some unexpectedly amaze, but all are unique and can never be captured again.


Emerson Mayes June 2021





1972 - Harrogate, North Yorkshire


BA (Hons) Graphic Arts, Leeds Metropolitan University, 1994


PCJ Drawing Award, Society Wildlife Artists, London 2013

St Cuthbert's Mill Printmaking Award, 2010

Exhibition Award at Leeds Art Fair, 2006

Yorkshire Open, Harrogate, 2003

Laing Landscape Prize under 25s, 1998

Harrogate Borough Council Award, 1997

Small Work Award, M.A.F.A. 1996

Young Artist of the Year Award, Leeds, 1995

Selected Solo Shows:

Northcote Gallery, London (forthcoming)

108 Fine Art, Harrogate

Zillah Bell Gallery, Thirsk

Flying Colours Gallery, London

MacLean Fine Art, Cork Street, London

The Gascoigne Gallery, Harrogate

The Firth Gallery, Edinburgh

Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate

Selected Group Exhibitions:

Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

Force of Nature, Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate

North Base, 108 Fine Art, Harrogate

New Light Group Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London

Society of Wildlife Artists, Mall Galleries, London

Flying Colours Gallery, London

MacLean Fine Art

London Art Fair

Affordable Art Fair

Art London

Glasgow Art Fair

Edinburgh Art Fair