In capturing her forgotten, untamed landscapes, painter Amy Wright creates a new abstract world of plants, where pattern, shape, texture and colour create an immersive and sensory vision of the natural world.
This month we visited Amy at home in Ceres, a picturesque little town near Geelong where Amy also works, to talk about her very interesting career so far as a creator, juggling her time as a stay at home mum, and her favourite materials to work with.
You’re an incredibly versatile creator! Tell us a little bit about your journey so far.
I’ve certainly had a fun journey reaching my full-time painting practice! I began my training in Fine Arts, at VCA studying Sculpture before jumping ship and landing in Textile Design at RMIT. I was a Print Major. I adored the course, it allowed me the opportunity to paint and draw ((back in the days before everything become computer generated!) on a daily basis and introduced me to a product outcome. I had the opportunity to study overseas - Nottingham Trent Uni (UK) - before going on to Lecture at RMIT during my Honours year. During my Honours year, I was lucky enough to end up in Detroit (USA) for a time working with a group of international students at General Motors, as part of an Automotive Internship. I was responsible for ‘Colour and Trim’ within the group. Working alongside the sculptors, designers and engineers, C&T works much like an interior designer, for cars, selecting and specifying fabrics, leathers, stitching colours, interior and exterior paint colours, decorative finishes.
On my return to Australia, I worked for a Taiwanese Textile company, servicing the Australian Automotive industry, before commencing work at GM Holden, where I again worked in Colour and Trim studio for a lengthy period. Concurrently I was designing and printing my own textile products and opened a small studio/shop/cafe, “A Shop Called Milton” with my then partner.
Always having had a love of Flowers - my Grandmother was a watercolorist who painted flower posies and landscapes - the shop allowed me to start working directly with them. I had left the design studio at Holden by this stage and started my foray into floristry under the name Wunderplant. I was predominantly a one-woman band, working on weddings and events. Floristry is Hard Yakka and I adored it.
A couple years later, now living and working out of a warehouse space in Elsternwick, I returned to painting in my downtime. Eventually a move to Ceres (on the outskirts of Geelong) with my now partner Steve, and pregnant with our daughter Maeve (now 3) I wound back the floristry and poured my days into painting! My absolute happy place.
How does your background as a textile designer and florist inform your practice as an artist?
Texture, Colour and Pattern. So much of being a Print Textile Designer is about creating textures and patterns with and on a flat fabric surface. I am definitely a texture fiend! I build up my canvases, with textural elements like straw, sawdust, and heavy application of paints. Textile Design has definitely informed my use of mixed media, always playing with layering the painting surface, using varied mediums to create a different look, different mark making and patterning. Floristry provided the subject matter and has made me very aware of colour - the subtle shifts in nature.
What concepts and narratives drift into your work? Where do you go for inspiration?
Overarching everything is the natural environment. I have always been inspired by landscapes and flowers, but it is the details, the textures and patterns and colours that often go unnoticed that I find the most interesting. My work pieces together elements of the landscape that when all fused together make a single painted landscape. In a way, I dissect a landscape, to then recreate it in a new form - It still has the familiarity of what is there in reality, but also suggests an imaginary world wrapped up in that reality.
Describe your process. Do you create drafts and plan or are you more spontaneous? Work from photos? Work outdoors? Keep a sketch book?
I constantly take photos. I have thousands in my phone! Wherever I am in the natural environment, I am taking snaps of textures, patterns, small details and intricacies, compositions of flower beds, colours, and forms. I am best going walks on my own - or with my toddler - as there is a lot of stopping and starting! Often, I will flick through these photos very quickly and then from memory sketch out vague compositions for paintings. I might flick though magazines and make colour scheme collages. Invariably then, I put everything away and never look at it again! I work predominantly from memory and respond to the actions of mediums on the canvases. I need to lose myself in the work. As soon as I become ‘aware’ of what I am working on, have a thought of what the end result might be, or have an outside source dictate what I should be producing - it’s gone. I work intuitively, so as soon as I have my head too IN it, the painting stops working and I have to step out. That is in part why I have multiple paintings on the go at one time and why I have to work alone.
Tell us about your workspace. What is a usual day in the studio like for you?
I work from my home/garden studio - I am super lucky to have an amazing large shed to create in. It’s a comfortable space, which is rarely tidy! I juggle my practice around being an at home mum. I only have snatches of time at the moment, so I have learnt not to procrastinate, but just get in the studio and start something, anything when I am in there. I’ve found its best not to have a plan, but to have the materials available to just start.
What materials are you drawn to and why?
I use a multitude of materials and mediums. It’s all about what each medium can give. Watered down acrylics I am using at the moment; in much the same way I would use watercolour on paper. I adore the randomness, and the uncontrollable element of watered mediums. Charcoal, I love for its sweeping soft marks and strong line. I use malleable erasers, to go back in and remove and edit charcoal off the canvas surface. Prismacolor pencil I love for its opaque quality, how it sits on the surface and creates subtle depths.
Are there any artists or designers you particularly appreciate for their originality, designs and thinking?
Loralee Jade - I love her tactile and ethereal surfaces; the way she plays with patterning, adding and removing, and the details areas with vast open space. @loraleejadeartist
Spencer Shakespeare - I enjoy Spencer’s way of reducing the landscape to key elements, strong bold and unapologetic line work. His paintings allow you to step into a dreamlike world.
Guido Maestri - incredibly inspiring landscapes, his paint application and the joyful exuberance and use of colour. @guy_maestri
Piet Oudelf - Landscape designer. Colours and compositions. @pietoudelf
On the back of 2020, I’ve intentionally tried to not book too much in this year! I wanted to allow space and time for new exploration and experimentation.
I currently have a solo show Tethered hanging at Lon Retreat and Spa, in Point Lonsdale VIC. It’s a beautifully tranquil space and definitely worth a visit. (open to the public Monday -Saturday) All works are available to view on my website.
Pre covid I was hoping to explore overseas residences, however with the landscape of overseas travel somewhat hindered, this will have to wait. Its time perhaps to explore some of Australia that I am yet to see! We have just started renovating our humble home in Ceres, and I am absorbed in making plans for landscaping our garden! For now, I am happy at home and the studio.
Thank you Amy! It has been an absolute pleasure collaborating with you.
For more of Amy's work visit
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