This is the first “interview” where I have not actually communicated on a personal level with the artist being featured, yet I feel as though I know Amanda, (to a certain extent), nonetheless. Having viewed her work so often via the intranet, and admiring the clean, colorful, whimsy in her creations, an image formed long ago in my imagination of how I would picture her in person; modest, joyful, and smiling. Much like her artwork speaks to me.
Amanda has an identifiable artistic voice. Many artists, (yours truly included), search for their own voice for years. In the interview, Amanda addresses this in a very honest way, and her words have not fell on deaf ears.
I hope you enjoy learning more about Amanda, as much as I have, and start to develop the lovely image of an artist so willing to share her art and experience with the world at large, as I have. Enjoy!
LMA: How did you get started in mosaics?
Amanda: I came across Gaudi's work whilst studying sculpture at Liverpool School of Art in the late eighties and that sparked my interest in mosaic making. However it wasn't until a few years after graduating that I made my first mosaic. I had moved back to the West Midlands and rented a small studio where I continued working on mixed media constructions. I was also volunteering along with an artist friend Johanna Potter at a psychiatric hospital in Birmingham, painting and drawing with some of the residents in the occupational therapy department. The work being produced in these sessions was so interesting we thought it would be a good idea to interpret the designs in mosaic and give them a permanent home in the courtyard garden outside. This became such an enjoyable project that it inspired me to introduce mosaic into my own work and I haven't looked back since.
LMA: What is it about creating mosaics that resonates with you?
Amanda: I like the reflective rhythmic pace to making mosaics, cutting each piece of tesserae and constructing the design. I love colour, and stained glass has a rich seductive quality that when combined with ceramic and pottery pieces gives mosaics a real vibrancy.
LMA: Do you practice any other art forms on a regular basis or have a hobby when not making mosaics?
Amanda: I have painted, and made mixed media sculpture in the past, but recently I just draw and make watercolour sketches of ideas for my mosaics.
LMA: Have you taken any mosaic classes and who were they with?
Amanda: No, I'm completely self-taught, and have learnt as I've gone along but whenever I meet other mosaic makers I like to share tips and ideas. Having a background in sculpture also helps in terms of understanding materials.
LMA: Do you support any charitable causes?
Amanda: I've supported various charities in different ways and donated works for auction.
LMA: Tell us a little about your studio and attach a photo or 2 of your studio space:
Amanda: I have a room in my house as a studio, overlooking the front garden and further onto the street, it's usually teetering on the state of chaos. I have shelves full of jars and, overflowing boxes full off ceramic tiles and broken pottery, drawers of stained glass sheets, and work in various stages of completion. I like to work standing at my bench in front of the window so I have plenty of natural light.
LMA: Do you listen to music while creating (what type/bands) or do you prefer the TV (what shows/genera/channel)? Silence? Pod cast? Etc.?
Amanda: When you work on your own it's nice to have the company of the radio. I listen to BBC6 Music which plays a mixture of alternative and left field music, from The Smiths to Tame Impala, and it's great for discovering new bands and older more obscure music that you may not have heard before. Music is really important to me and if I do turn the radio off I like to listen to someone like Agnes Obel, or the Cocteau Twins for the haunting unnerving quality of their music and the balance of light and dark.
LMA: What is one of your favorite quotes or sayings?
Amanda: "Art is the guarantee of sanity" Louise Bourgeois, possibly my favourite artist.
LMA: If you could give readers one single piece of advice, what would it be?
Amanda: Give yourself space to have fun experimenting, this is my favourite part of the making process but when you're busy finishing commissions or working towards an exhibition it's difficult to make time. Embrace mistakes and happy accidents this can help you find your unique voice.
LMA: Tell us about your single greatest mosaic moment?
Amanda: I was commissioned under the guise of wigwamarts, a participatory arts organization I co founded with Johanna Potter, to produce a series of mosaics for a children's centre in Birmingham, it was a very multicultural area and we invited groups of people from all the various community's to take part. The vibrancy of the area especially the colours and patterns in the numerous textile shops had a big influence on me and sparked ideas that have helped shape the style of my work today.
LMA: What are your favorite:
- Tesserae? Stained glass for its intense colour, but I like to combine it with other things.
- Adhesive? I just use a basic white ready mixed tile adhesive, but the dark charcoal grout I use is an important element of my work it gives it a bold outline and compliments my illustrative style. I use Bal flexible wide joint floor grout.
- Tools? Lepponit wheeled nippers, they cut both glass and ceramic, pretty much the only cutters I use.
I find a wonderfully wise simplicity in Amanda’s mosaics…just the right amount of color, shape and pattern for her subjects, which keep them filled with joy for the eyes and heart. I can’t help but feel happy in viewing Amanda’s creations. I always look forward to what she will bring to life next, all the while knowing it will be bringing joy and happiness once it arrives!