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Emma Prempeh works acquired for Harris Museum & Art Gallery

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  • Acquisition
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It’s the People That Make a Home, 2023

It’s the People That Make a Home, 2023 by Emma Prempeh The Harris, Preston

Acquisitions Scheme: Fine Art 

Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston 


It’s the People That Make a Home 
Oil, acrylic and Schlag metal on canvas 
76.2 x 61 cm 


Oil, acrylic, print, and Schlag metal on canvas 
35.6 x 27.9 cm 


Emma Prempeh, a British artist with Ghanaian and Vincentian heritage, explores interior spaces together with aspects of her personal history, reconstructing environments to physically grasp moments of familiarity, expectation, and nostalgia. The starting point of her work is the manipulation of tonal properties, shadows, and darkness, which provide a cinematic basis to invoke memories of events, people, and places. Schlag metal (imitation gold leaf) is added to selected areas of her paintings and oxidises over time, creating slow, visual changes that animate the images as they provide a physical representation of time. Prempeh occasionally experiments with projected, still and moving imagery to create painting installations that invite other experiential and performative encounters with her work. 


Prempeh’s works dive into magical realism and the diaspora, addressing questions of what it is like to feel in-between. She explores where we decide what is our home and how this is experienced by individuals across the African diaspora and those who cross and interweave within it. In her portraits, Prempeh begins by exploring the people closest to her, such as her grandma who was a part of the Windrush generation. It’s the People That Make a Home presents a sense of warmth and features her grandma sharing photographs. The cat in the background is totemistic of Prempeh’s presence and is a symbol of rest. Prempeh sees her grandma’s home as a place of refuge and comfort, with her home being an expression of her cultural identity. 1936 portrays the feet of Prempeh’s grandma, emphasising Prempeh’s roots in the UK because of her grandma’s migration to Britain.  


The Harris Museum owns relatively few works by women artists, particularly figurative paintings that explore experiences of identity, representations of diversity and intergenerational family life. It’s the People That Make a Home and 1936 are important additions to the collection, forming a part of a major redisplay when the Harris reopens in 2025. With particular focus on narratives that explore identity, heritage and a sense of belonging, the museum has an ongoing commitment to working with local communities including Preston’s Windrush generation and descendants. 


Emma Prempeh (b. 1996, London, UK) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Ordovas Gallery, London (2023); Tiwani Contemporary, Lagos, Nigeria (2022); Ada\ Contemporary Art Gallery, Accra, Ghana (2021); The Lightbox Gallery and Museum, Woking (2020). Recent group exhibitions Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana; Tiwani Contemporary; and Frieze No.9 Cork Street, London (all 2023). 


Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 2023/2024 

1936, 2023 by Emma Prempeh The Harris, Preston

1936, 2023 by Emma Prempeh The Harris, Preston