Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University. Emma's research focuses on artistic processes and practices, and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ therein. Her practice unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches, alongside a mode of ‘contiguous writing’ — a way of writing-with that seeks to touch upon rather than being explicitly about. Her writing is published in Failure, 2010; Stillness in a Mobile World, 2010; Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Thought, 2011; Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art, 2012; Reading/Feeling, 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and the solo collection, The Yes of the No, 2016.

Publication: Document


Open City have work published in the current issue of the journal Rubric, focusing on the theme, Document. A PDF version of the journal can be found here . 

Project: Urban Retreat

I will be working with artist Sophie Mellor on a new piece of writing, as the basis for a 'Manual of Marginal Places', within the context of her project, Urban Retreat: Routes into Uneasy Landscapes .


13 September - 3 October 2010

Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria

Lottie Child , Emma Cocker, Sophie Mellor , Laura Oldfield Ford, Clare Thornton 

Urban Retreat is a series of artists commissions, activities and events reflecting on the use and value of urban/rural landscapes. It takes Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a starting point, using socialised seclusion and public interaction to investigate the local economic and ecological landscape of Barrow-in-Furness.

Barrow's unusual landscape charts its industrial past and economic decline alongside its reclamation by both nature and current regeneration schemes. The commissioned artists will examine the urban and rural spaces. Their aim, as artists have always done, is to record our enduring relationship with the land - yet they will do this in a variety of ways with a range of materials themed around the urban and rural. 

Sophie Mellor will spend two weeks as an urban wanderer relying on the kindness of strangers and the bounty of the land to house and feed her. Clothed in an especially designed survival jacket by Clare Thornton, she will place herself directly in Barrow's marginalised landscapes, investing in its use and beauty through her interactions with people and place. 

Around this central, durational performance, there will be a series of free public events and activities. Lottie Child will run a Street Training session, investigating how to traverse both industrial and rural Barrow. Lottie has developed Street Training as a method to directly engage people with their surroundings through creative and playful behaviour combining parkour, movement, singing, conversation, games.

 Martin Norris of South Walney Nature Reserve will lead a 'Nature Walk' of Barrow's wastelands, looking at how nature colonises land left fallow by industry.

 Laura Oldfield Ford will take participants on a drawing 'drift' (walk) around Barrow's sites of regeneration, using drawing to reassess and document how industry, politics and economics have impacted the land and its use. 

As well as making the survival jacket for Sophie Mellor's urban wander, Clare Thornton will run a 'Survival Bag' workshop where participants will be invited to make and customise a bag to carry the items they need to negotiate their environment. 

At the end of her urban wander, Sophie Mellor will take audiences on a walk through the different environments she encountered, telling stories of her encounters and offering tastes of the wild and scavenged food she found on the way. 

Barrow-in-Furness Library will be hosting the Urban Retreat Lending Library, where library users can borrow books donated by Urban Retreat artists and invited patrons, for the duration of the project. 

Writer Emma Cocker will be corresponding via post with Sophie Mellor during her urban wander, and the resultant new writing will form the basis of 'Manual for Marginal Places' to be published in Spring 2011.

Event: If....

I will be 'in conversation' with artist Candice Jacobs at G39 in Cardiff on August 10th 2010, in relation to her current show there as part of G39's If.... season. More to follow soon.

Nottingham based Artist Candice Jacobs continues g39's If.... season. Jacobs works with a variety of media producing sound, video, painting and sculpture, with the intention of undermining the traditional role of the artist as retaining control and authorship over their work. Jacobs engages in what could be described as transactional work that involves the exchange of ideas and constructs with social groups or objects that become attached or connected to her through her many roles in daily life.

News: Drawing as a fundamental thinking tool

Relating to a number of projects in which I have been exploring drawing as a fundamental thinking tool or mode of 'productive knowledge - see Hyperdrawing , Drawing the Hypothesis , Oh how drawing thinks itself in me ), I have been invited to be a co-editor for the online journal TRACEY , which is an electronic open access journal dedicated to the presentation of drawing and the discussion of drawing practice.


* introduces a diverse range of material to a fast growing audience of practitioners, educators, students and researchers
* represents many perspectives on drawing including fine art, architectural design, graphics, product design and visualization
* sees drawing as a fundamental thinking tool
* advocates the value of drawing in professional and educational contexts
* provides a focus and forum for all aspects of drawing research
* crosses the boundaries of art, design, science, technology, education and life
* encourages participation and collaboration

Event: ANTI festival

I will be participating in the 'Writing, Language and Site' seminar as part of the 2010 ANTI festival, in Kuopio, Finland. The seminar programme is below. A full programme for the festival can be found here 

Below is a PDF version of the whole programme for this year's ANTI festival