Body Art and Nature: The Works of Artist Emma Hack

Melissa Pearce

With her career spanning over 20 years, Australian artist Emma Hack has become renowned for works of art that combine nature, wallpaper design and the shapes of the human form. In these beautiful works, Hack creates playful dialogues between the bodies of her muses and their painted surroundings.

Multi-talented in her conquests, Emma Hack has specialised in face and body painting for over 20 years. She began her career in Adelaide as a makeup artist, hairdresser and children’s face painter, later moving onto body painting. Her varied skills today enable her to create incredibly detailed works of art, which seamlessly merge the contours of the human body with the painted designs, which often take inspirations from nature. Having previously used experienced photographers to capture her works, Hack has recently taken to photography herself, and exhibits her ability to successfully experiment with a range of creative outlets.
By merging components of high art, design and body painting, Emma Hack has created a type of body art that is innovative and incredibly detailed. Her wide collection of works are seen to take influences ranging from popular culture (POP!), to personal memories and experiences (Mirrored Whispers), to the bold designs of the 1960s and her discovery of renowned designer Florence Broadhurst. The influences from Broadhurst’s works can be seen in Hack’s more recent Wallpaper editions. Hack’s brightly coloured pieces are bursting with ideas from nature and promote styles of design affiliated with this, such as the Art Nouveau movement. She has been working with the technique of combining body painting with fine art since 2005, and has since reached a new level of maturity and ingenuity.

For the 2011 music video Somebody That I Used to Know, director and producer Natasha Pincus hired Emma Hack to paint the bodies of musicians Wally De Backer (Gotye) and Kimbra. The music video was an instant hit, and since becoming viral has been viewed by over 200 million people worldwide. Using film and stop animation to create an incredible sequence of body art, Hack builds upon the background image, painted by Howard Clark, onto the bodies of the two singers. The video begins with neutral skin tones, with the camera spanning over a bare-bodied Gotye. The wall before which he is stood gradually crawls with plant-like lines, creating spaces that are in turn filled with muted serene colors. These lines and colors are seen to grow slowly onto the skin of De Backer, maintaining the painterly style of the wall behind.

As the camera pans out, we see Kimbra camouflaged against the backdrop, and her body contorts to fully expose its existence within the space. The relationship between Gotye and Kimbra, as described in the song, is seen to be portrayed through the physical connection between their bodies and the painting. As Kimbra leaves the relationship, the paint on her body recedes, leaving her back bare at the end of the film. The design itself was inspired by Wally De Backer’s father, Frank De Backer, and his visual works from the 1980s. The video took a total of 23 hours to complete, and although a commercial piece, it stands out as having very personal overtones. Following the video, Hack created a portrait of Gotye, which was auctioned at ART Melbourne and took inspiration from the video for its design.

Growing up in South Australia, Emma Hack benefited from one of the most naturally diverse parts of the country. Rolling vineyards and fields set against vast skies, and contrasted with the surrounding desert landscapes make South Australia an ideal place for inspiring creativity. Having admitted to a direct influence from growing up in such beautiful surroundings, Hack uses natural shapes in her works along with the physical forms of her selected muses. Her pieces are bold, detailed and carefully executed. They playfully experiment with bodies which are camouflaged against diverse backgrounds containing both bold shapes and delicate floral designs. The bodies are sometimes completely hidden, while at other times are partially exposed to trick the viewer’s gaze into seeing clothes, as seen in Wallpaper 50s from her Wallpaper 05 collection. Often including animals, in particular birds, Hack’s wallpaper works for which she has become widely recognized can be seen to emphasize the immersion of nature and beauty in art.

Over the years Emma Hack has expertly and skillfully created prints which have led her to become progressively revered as an artist and body painter; 2001 saw her win the first prize award at the CIDESCO World Congress Professional World Body Painting Championship in Hong Kong. She has also released her first book, Wallpaper Collection 2005-2010 which contains high quality images from this edition. Today her works are highly sought after, and with only 1000 copies of her book available, they are surrounded by the sought-after aura of high art.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.