We are excited to welcome our first Artist in Focus for the year, Amy Wright, with Above and Below series. We recently caught up with Wright to learn more about her inspirations and experience during isolation. With a background in the textile industry and floral design business, Wright breaks down why her garden is her muse and how the tactility of fabric plays an important part in her current practice.
You use a variety of mediums in your works. How did you come to develop your painting technique?
Through play and experimentation and responding to the medium. Having a varied design and arts background, I have been introduced to various mediums and techniques. My time studying printed Textile Design at university was just before CAD really became the focus in the industry, so all the design work was primarily hand painted, it was incredible. It was all about creating textures and patterns on the paper surface; I had the opportunity to experiment with everything that I could get my hands on that could make a mark. Textile Design also influence how I worked on paper or fabric surfaces. You have to think and work in layers, whether its painting the design work or printing the fabric. You have to break down the design, respond to the mediums and layer as you build up the design. In the same way, when screen-printing, elements are split across different screens, and the act of printing the fabric is in layers.
Was there anything specific you wanted to explore while creating these new works?
Obviously because of the time we are living through, everything has become smaller and closer. So too has my source of inspiration. Unable to get in the car, jump on a plane, I’ve had to find inspiration at home. I’ve always been a bit of an explorer and a walker, I love wandering around the streets checking out peoples gardens, as much as hiking trails, river walks, beach walks, city walks. I can be inspired by anything! I’m the person constantly stopping and taking photos, and its generally photos of the details, of textures or patterns; a colour palette.
I have always looked beyond my own garden for inspiration. I always wanted to ‘widen my view’, and being forced to focus on my own little patch was at first, challenging. I was feeling ‘stifled’. As a way to counteract that feeling, I spent some time with my camera in my own garden and treated it like somewhere new. Looking for the usually unnoticed details…the snail trails, the cobweb patterns, the dappled light as it falls through the copper tipped acacias, the seed pods versus the bright punches of flowering colour. As it turned out my garden was teeming with inspiration!
How has your background as a freelance designer in the textile industry and floral design business influenced your current practice?
The most prevalent influence has been thinking 3D. Experimentation and play! and layering. When working on a painting, I see the canvas as layered in a three-dimensional sense, not a 2D surface. I draw, and apply paint in layers, building up the surface. Many years ago – in my teens- I spent time being tutored by an incredible Dutch Artist, Yolande Calkoen. There was an exercise we did that has really stuck with me. She taught me to first walk around a whole still life, really looking from all angles before you put pencil to paper. When I did start drawing I had to first draw what I could remember from the ‘other side’ of the still life. Over the top of this, I then drew what I was seeing in front of me. It was such a great exercise in really looking and understanding space. Being mindful, that an object, a plant, a leaf, has an opposite side, a side perhaps unnoticed. I still work like this now!
During these times at home, my interest in the tactility of fabric has resurfaced as well. I’ve introduced, in these works, some textile techniques – hand dyed and manipulated silks – that I worked with back in the early 2000s in what was then my textile practice. I love the way you can paint on both sides of silk, creating these shadow effects. The material becomes almost transparent when working with wax. The wax cracking technique I use makes elements uncontrollable and I revel in this as it feeds my need for play!
We look forward to welcoming Amy Wright as our Artist in Focus. You will find all the works on her exhibition page and proudly displayed in our showroom from 20 January.