Venice Biennale

Venice Biennale

20th April – 24th November 2024

Embodied Consciousness

Emily Young free-carves stone, small pieces of the planet; for over 35 years she has sought and found the stones she works with in abandoned quarries, in stone yards, in wild places. Her imagination and curiosity are triggered by the stones themselves. Some of the stones are over 3 billion years old, some just a few million. Some of these stones are amongst the hardest stones to work, quartz, for instance, and some are the softest, alabaster.

She has said that her teachers were the ancient stone carvers of the past, across the globe, across the millennia, whose physical engagement with the stone was able to carry through to future generations their age old and profound connection to the planet.

She says: “I work with pieces of stone that speak to me in some way – they may have evocative forms and colours in their natural historical/geological structures, or on their surfaces”. She says: “Once having found the pieces, I am guided by the stone. I call it a marriage made in heaven, as the conversation is between something as short lived and organic as a human, and the deep time principles of aeons; as in, the billions of years that we understand the cosmos to be. I put into them something of my own mind, seeing in them the ancient story of the creation of our planet, the creation of our solar system, our galaxy and beyond.”

She has described how: “hyper-industrialisation has encouraged us humans of the developed world to profoundly misread the planet we live on, and our relationship to it – which is one of complete dependence, there is not one iota of separation. As in pareidolia, we assumed there was in nature something that looked like a more or less infinite abundance: we have seen the planet as a resource for our requirements, a service provider, to be used and abused. Whereas in fact it is the great creator of every part of our being – and thereby deserving of our uttermost respect.”

She describes how these sculptures call to our inner knowledge of who we might potentially be. In their showing of a quietness, of a kind of beauty and stillness carried in the stone, she acknowledges that we are all of us the sorrowful children of a magical planet, which gives us life and meaning. The pieces speak to a passionate and profound gratitude for the gift of life, and call to a profound compassion for all our fellow creatures.”

These pieces could endure for millions of years. Emily Young is aware of our planet’s potential future, where the Earth, already 4.7 billion years old, will be completely devoid of life in one billion years. This will happen when the sun, our star, which already has started to die, irradiates our solar system in his burning death throes.

Emily Young’s work is timeless, poetic, serious.

“Thoughts are carved in stone.”

Lost Mountain Head I

Since I started working with stone, over forty years ago (wild stone as compared with quarried, six sided blocks) the pieces have increasingly become translators of human
consciousness: the two entities, raw matter and human consciousness form a marriage that speaks potently of the drama of human frailty. We have disowned our Earth Mother, and the deep physical history that gave us our lives. I carved the Lost Mountain Head piece (from some two tons of complex stone from the local mountain) some ten years ago to protest the spreading destruction of said mountain, Monte Amiata in Southern Tuscany, by way of geo-thermal projects. I like to show our profound connection to the Earth, by leaving untouched the natural signs of the life of the ancient stone, and at the same moment showing the human compassion we can have, in the sight of our better natures, as opposed to our interior fools.

Emily Young, Santa Croce, 2024.

Works Exhibited

Venue information


European Cultural Centre
Palazzo Mora
Strada Nova, 3659, 30121 Venezia VE

20th April – 24 November
Open every day from 10.00 to 18.00
Tuesdays closed
Free entry

Nearest vaporetto: Ca’ D’Oro

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Giardini della Marinaressa
Riva dei Sette Martiri 30122 Venezia VE

20th of April to 30th September, gardens are open every day from 07.00 to 20.30.
1st of October to the 24th November, gardens are open every day from 08.00 to 18.30.
Free entry

Nearest vaporetto:
Arsenale
Giardini ‘A’ and ‘B’

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