Based in Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland, Emma graduated with a BDes Glass from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 2009. An Artist Residency followed at Strokestown House, Ireland in 2012, before completing an MFA from the University of Sunderland in 2013.
Emma Bourke is interested in tangible relationships to history, mythology, and folklore. Her work pushes the technical boundaries of lampworking, and her new work is based on the definition of Biophilia; the innate human tendency to seek connections with nature. Emma has created enclosed gardens of wild plants that have many traditional and contemporary uses.
‘I’m interested in the symbiotic relationship between people and plants, from seed migration to cultivation to medicinal uses; from local to global contexts. Speedwell is a good example, while this pretty blue flower is said to be a ‘cure-all’ it is mainly used as an expectorant for respiratory problems, stomach ailments and skin irritants. I took a scientific approach when creating the petals and branches in glass, to scrutinise the physicality, scale and fragility of the original plant.’
Emma’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and in 2021 she received the Agility Award from the Crafts Council of Ireland. The National Museum of Ireland has a piece of Bourke’s work in their Collection and Emma’s thesis; Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka and their glass models of sea creatures was also acquired by the Corning Museum of Glass, as part of the Rakow Library’s Blaschka Archive.
Public Collections include:
Trinity College Collection, Chemistry Department, Trinity College, Ireland; Maurice Ward Art Handlers Collection, Ireland; Mayo County Council Collection, Aras na Contae, Ireland; Museum of Ireland Collection, Museum of Decorative Arts & History, Ireland