Emma Underhill is Founder and Director of UP Projects with 18 years’ experience in curating and leading large scale, ambitious projects in the public realm, often delivered through complex partnership working. Under Emma’s leadership, UP Projects has gained an expansive reputation for progressive public art commissioning, robust and genuine community engagement methodologies and a commitment to artist development, often providing artists with career changing opportunities.
Recent projects that Emma has directed include a highly ambitious commission on the behalf of Crossrail in Newham working with Sonia Boyce OBE (due to launch late 2020), a series of wall-based commissions by Jessie Brennan in the Royal Docks (2019/20) and a series of integrated artworks for the Nine Elms Development, Vauxhall (launched 2018). Emma also leads the artistic direction of UP Projects’ core programme which includes the UP Commissions programme, the Constellations artist development programme and the digital commission strand This is Public Space.
In 2008, Emma initiated and curated the multi-stakeholder project Portavilion, commissioning temporary pavilion structures for varied public spaces across London. Participating international artists included Annika Eriksson, Dan Graham, Toby Paterson, Monika Sosnowska, and architects including Raumblaborberlin and Studio Weave. To deliver the project, Emma worked in partnership with local authorities, the Greater London Authority, The Olympic Development Authority and the Arts Council England. This series culminated in the creation of The Floating Cinema, an artist-led programme and cultural event space that has been enjoyed by over 50,000 people as it navigated the waterways across the country from 2011 - 2019.
Emma is also a highly experience strategic thinker with a strong belief that artists can play a valuable role in every stage of the urban development cycle. She has written many cultural and public art strategies for organisations and locations including The Royal Parks, London; Artlands, Kent & Medway; Southwark Council; Berkeley Homes, Nine Elms, London; Knight Dragon, Greenwich Peninsula; Crossrail, Newham, London and Telford Homes, Rotherhithe, London.