Emma FitzGerald was born to Irish parents in Lesotho, a small mountainous kingdom in Southern Africa. She moved to Canada at a young age and spent most of her childhood in Vancouver, BC. These early travels have instilled in her a keen interest in people and places.
Emma has followed a career path that is part architecture, part art, receiving a BFA in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia in 2004, and a Masters in Architecture from Dalhousie University in 2008. She has worked in architecture offices across Canada and with Peter Rich Architects in Johannesburg, South Africa. There she worked on the award-winning Mapungubwe Interpretive Centre and Alexandra Heritage Centre.
Her art practice is characterised by on-site drawing, place-based research, and a sense of the poetic. This work has taken her from textile factories in her birth country of Lesotho to the various houses of Canadian American poet Elizabeth Bishop. She has exhibited widely, and participated in several artist residency programmes including Largo das Artes in Rio de Janeiro, and the Santa Fe Art Institute's thematic residency in New Mexico.
She is the author and illustrator of Hand Drawn Halifax, a best-selling book based on her chosen home in Nova Scotia. The Globe & Mail describes it as 'part journal, part sketchbook, Hand Drawn Halifax is a love letter to Atlantic Canada’s largest city.'
She has since written and illustrated Sketch by Sketch Along Nova Scotia's South Shore, also with Formac Publishing. She has worked with Nimbus Publishing, illustrating the children's books EveryBody's Different on EveryBody Street (words Sheree Fitch) and A Pocket of Time: The Poetic Childhood of Elizabeth Bishop (words Rita Wilson), which has been nominated for IBBY Canada's 2020 Cleaver Award.
In Summer 2020 she will release Hand Drawn Vancouver with Appetite of Penguin Random House Canada.