Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.
Emma Lucy Shaw was born and raised in Coventry England. Experiencing a typical working class reality and the school system associated with that did little to inspire her creativity. The education she received seemed to be designed to make workers but all the factories were in decay or demolished during her youth. The future felt bleak during the teen years and then the deaths of both her parents a few years apart left her entering early adulthood scared and alone.
She gained a degree in Archaeology but by the end of that experience felt conned, that university for the most part was a scam, indebting generations into a system while they drain their lives away trying to pay back what they lent when they were too young to understand what they were getting into. During this time Emma visited the Middle East in warzones taking part of archaeological excavations and peace activism, trying to protect heritage sites from destruction. However during this time it became very obvious to Emma she had no idea who she was, so how could she even help this world if she has not yet helped herself?
Without a family home or somewhere to return to Emma found herself on a very nomadic path working in hospitality. First was the Scottish Highlands, where part of her blood roots came from. This was the first time she experienced folk traditions and something was awakened inside. Growing up in concrete modernity and post war archetecture was a heavy experience, there was no traditions just TV and a fake culture you plugged into. But here she felt something real, something ancient that was within her waiting to be remembered.
From here she next worked in Arctic Lapland during one winter where she didnt see the sun for nearly 3 months. When it finally returned one day during a hotel shift the entire restaurant gazed in awe at the returning sun and this was when a connection to the Sun started to begin to form in her spirit. The endles snow covered trees, that looked like a crystal landscape and the dancing northern lights that came out at night was one of the most magical experiences of her life so far and it inspired her to keep going, seeking something she did not fully comprehend yet.
From here Emma found herself in the Norwegian fjords spending an entire summer in Gudvangen, living in a Viking tent barefoot in a linen dress and reindeer hide. This was before the Viking Village was built and in the summer a huge market was held. Wardruna would preform and their was a sea of people dressed like their ancestors, the magic continued to stir in her being. She would spend time in this landscape, by waterfalls and sitting by trees and a little bit of creative spark started to return since it had nearly been eradicated by the educational system. Emma started to hear nature speak in a langauge beyond words in this landscape where she felt heavily connected to her fathers line and why she seemed to look like one of the locals.
From here Emma next went to do a hospitality working season in The English Lake District and on her arrival visited Castlerigg stone circle. She didn't know parts of English still looked like a Peter Rabbit story and this landscape had a great healing effect on her soul. As time past she felt at one with the fells and lakes and learned many tracks around that the tourists didn't know about, finding herself meditating in this green lush realm as poetry started to return to her, something she had once enjoyed greatly as a child.
It was during her time in the Lakes she decided to finally save up to visit Peru. A place that had captivated her mind since childhood when she first learned about the Nazca lines and the other ancient sites that scatter this ancient land. And in her darkest nights of grief she came across a documentary about shamanism and natural medicine that can help us come to terms with death. So not only did the ancient megaliths of this land call her but also the mysteries that have been guarded by the people of the Amazon.
Trying to grieve in a world where death is a taboo that nobody talks about, when we have been turned into hyper-individualistic consumers without community or family values was extremely confusing and by this age of 26 Emma wanted to face the sadness of being orphaned so she could get on with her life without this heavy weight she felt she was carrying but had not dealt with as nobody told her how.
It felt like something big was ahead and just before she left for Peru she took some art materials with her as she had heard these hallucinogenic experience can stimulate creativity, but she had just no idea how much….
This period during the final months of 2012 was still to this day one of the most profound periods of Emma's life. She entered the jungle scared and nervous with little confidence, and left an artist. The experience was just so visionary that Emma felt the only way to express this magical world she would visit, visions that become more real than this reality, was through drawing. And as people around her encouraged her to keep going eventually buying her paints, she kept going. At first the lines were shaky and maybe in the past it would have been where she would have given up, but a fresh streak of self worth pushed her forward. 7 months later her art was displaced in London at a psychedelic convention and a few months after that started to sell art regularly to the point she didnt have to clean hotel rooms anymore.
That was a decade ago, the birth of the artist and she is still going, evolving and learning more and more in regards to art. Emma left the west in 2014 traveling first north america and then returning to the Peruvian jungle to an art residency, however it was not the jungle calling her this time, it was the Andes and the megalithic temples that dwell there.
As the plane landed in Cusco she felt like she had arrived somewhere and felt very emotional without understanding why. But as the years past this peaceful beautiful landscape granted her friends, family, some wonderful pets and most importantly Motherhood.
Currently Emma is saving to return North to her roots, despite all the chaos and confusion in these times the call of ancestral grounds gets stronger and stronger. That dwelling so long amongst a traditional native people led her to the realization of just how rootless her own people had become. By Industrialization, wars and the modern dystopia built ontop of the ruins. In all her years around a peasant culture of the high Andes, she learned about her own peasant past and just how much social engineering she had been forced to consume in the world she grew up in. Everything almost seemed like a lie compared to the freedom felt in the Andes.
It is some type of calling, like the original call to Peru that now calls her home and all art sales help with the saving for this upcoming transition, so thank you.