In 2014 Associate Professor Emma Robertson was awarded both the Art & Design Faculty Dean's Sustained Teaching Excellence, and the UNSW Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Awards. Previously in 2008 she won the Dean's Award for Innovative Teaching for her two University wide creative thinking online courses. Emma researches new models and developments in creative thinking processes as applied to drawing, design and other disciplines. In her practice she explores the relationships between words, objects and memory in mixed media drawings and bookworks. Artworks by Emma are held in seven public collections in four countries, including the Hospital Trust for Scotland, who purchased two artworks commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council for the exhibition Wordworks.
In addition to teaching creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship to undergraduate and postgraduate students in nine Faculties at UNSW, Emma also teaches content relating to the influence of scientific illustration techniques on design processes, including those used in the film industry. In researching this she has visited Skywalker Ranch, Pixar and Animal Logic. She has been involved in Executive Education with Thiess, the Natural History Museum, London, The Agile Leader course at UTS, and others. Emma researched and worked as a consultant to Arup 2010-2013 to integrate creative thinking processes into their Staff Development initiatives and internal Design School, including a unique Moodle Course offered to their 13,000+ employees in 42 countries around the world. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Drawing, Wimbledon College of Art. In 2011 Emma was Guest Editor of the TRACEY Journal on Drawing Knowledge, Loughborough University, and in 2012 was Chair of the Drawing Knowledge Conference where she was one of four Keynote speakers.
For the last four years she has taught Tools for Creative Thinking to postgraduate students in the Design for Social Innovation course at the Centre for Social Impact, and has also given guest lectures to PhD students in Engineering and at the INSPIRE NSW symposium. Emma has held a number of senior administrative roles including Program Director of the Bachelor of Design degree for five years, three terms as Presiding Member of Faculty, and Deputy President of the UNSW Academic Board.
Emma’s artwork has been selected for five International Biennials of Drawing, for the Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing and for the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Prize in Australia. Emma was selected as the Artist in Residence at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, which continued her drawing series exploring endangered plant species. This culminated in a solo exhibition at the Red Box Gallery in the Domain, Sydney which was held in 2009, where 27 mixed media drawings were displayed. The exhibition, called Ascendant and Descendant explored the impact of climate change on rare and endangered Australian flora, and reflected the research work undertaken by scientists at the RBG.