Balthasar van der Ast with monkey

A Little Zodiac: A Little Garden A mini-series of new work by Emma Bass

A Little Garden – new work by Emma Bass, runs from 25 February until 15 March at ARTIS Gallery, 280 Parnell Road. More information: or

Just in time for the Chinese New Year, Emma Bass has created a small series of works to delight anyone interested in the Chinese zodiac. However, these are not the sort of works you’d expect from an artist well-known for her bright and eccentric floral portraits.


These works have been created in conjunction with A Little Garden, a new series by Bass which sees the artist layering creatures, objects of intrigue and gilded gold leaf Matisse shapes, over vintage reproductions of 17th-century Dutch flower paintings, which have been the main inspiration behind her body of work up until now.


“I’m entering the second phase of motherhood and life, this is a moment of change for me. I want to honour my inspiration and make a connection with the passing of time.” – Emma Bass


To sit alongside A Little Garden, which opens later this month at ARTIS Gallery in Parnell, Bass has created an intriguing series of miniatures inspired by the Chinese zodiac. Printed on board in acknowledgment to the original material most of these artworks would have been painted on, these works stand roughly at A4 in stature, with thick black borders laden in gloss. Each artwork contains a plastic animal, 12 in all, hidden amidst her recontextualised floral compositions.


The Chinese zodiac, or shengxiao or shnng-sshyao  (‘born resembling’), is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes. In order, the 12 Chinese horoscope animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. 2020 is the year of the rat.


In the flesh this magical series has celestial presence, each one a little treasure, a perfect morsel to take home for any first time art lovers.


Captions, top-bottom:
1. Balthasar van der Ast with monkey
2. Ambrosius Bosschaert the elder with horse
3. Johannes Goedhaert with ox
4. Balthasar van der Ast with rabbit
5. Hendrick de Fromantiou with goat