Amy Wright’s Fallowland

Words by
Sally Wilson
| June 6, 2016

Melbourne artist Amy Wright explores the Fallowland for her first solo exhibition, launching at Brunswick Street Gallery this Friday, 10 June.

Amy’s ‘Fallowland’ exhibition will showcase abstract landscape works developed over the past year. “My premise for the series is that for sustained growth there must be a period of laying fallow, a time where human management is removed and the landscape is allowed to be reclaimed by the natural environment to recover its nutrient rich makeup,” says Amy.

It’s an intriguing concept borrowed from agriculture and applied to the borderlands of our own environment. In the works, Amy depicts quiet and forgotten zones, perhaps a cliff-face or flank of a canal bank, the edge of land meeting ocean, or the discarded and fallow lands of demolished construction.

These landscapes often appear barren or untamed, and any plant life there deemed as weed and waste,” she observes. “Yet resurgence beneath the surface is is structured and prolific.”

Fallows in farming represent cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season to increase productiveness down the track. “In my own way I have been laying fallow, waiting and regrouping before moving to the phase of producing,” reflects Amy.

On the surface any such idleness is hard to see. Amy is the florist behind Wunderplant, a commercial textile designer and also a teacher. She has ‘Fallowland’ opening this week and she’s part of the ‘Phantom Paradise’ group show at Saint Cloche until 14 June. Going on these facts alone it would seem ‘Amy Wright’ and ‘inactivity’ are like north and south on a compass. Yet the opportunity to reflect, or depart for a time from productivity for the sheer sake of it, has certainly proved a stimulus for Amy’s art.

Art is the one aspect of my work life that, if everything else was stripped away, I would continue to pursue. I don’t really have a choice; it’s an inherent part of me!”

Please tell us more about your upcoming solo exhibition, ‘Fallowland’.
‘Fallowland’ is a series of abstract landscape paintings, which are the culmination of a year’s work, spent in part on foot with a camera exploring my immediate environment. At the time I was focusing on texture, decorative details and colours, in landscapes that would often be glossed over or ignored.

The concept of laying fallow is an apt one for me for the past year. It has been a year of gathering, creating collections of objects, putting together inspiration boards.

In my own way I have been laying fallow, waiting and regrouping before moving to the phase of producing.

What does a typical day involve for you?
Typical day? – That doesn’t really exist for me! I have worked hard to create a life that ebbs and flows throughout the year. I have peak times with my floristry business, Wunderplant during the wedding season. During these months, my days are defined by crack of dawn starts and the mix of creativity and physical labor of being a florist. Long days spent up and down ladders, with cable ties between my teeth and apron pockets filled with wires and snips, my feet generally surrounded by mounds of floral deluge!

Winter brings more time in the painting studio, and during these months, my mornings are spent working at my part time job with footwear designer, Hobes, before heading to my at home studio in Bayside Melbourne, and launching into new painting works. Morning coffee and afternoon cups of tea – lots of cups of tea!

It seems you do a bit of everything – art, floristry, teaching etc. How does this work for you? How do you balance all the things you do?
I’ve learnt over the years that I am at my best creatively when I am exploring and developing in different genres. They all feed into each other. Overarching everything is always a botanical influence. My formal training is in sculpture and textile design and I have always had a natural desire to work in a tactile way. The floristry aspect allows me to work 3D. Flowers and plants are my medium for creating sculpture.

I find teaching very inspiring and enlivening. I am fascinated that when a group of people are all presented with one core idea, every person’s creative output is startlingly different.

How would you describe your work and what’s your artistic philosophy?
My work always has a botanical element. I have a fascination with the plant world. I find it utterly remarkable. My artistic philosophy is simple. To create art – in whatever guise that may take – and create it often, to be open to what emerges and not to put limits or confines around it.

Can you give us some insight into your creative process?
I don’t find it easy to outline an obvious process per se. My mind is constantly gathering inspiration and taking mental notes of things I see around me. A new project always starts with me creating a brief of sorts – that’s the designer in me – which kick starts a period of gathering, sorting and refining.

My process generally involves filling my giant pin board with tear sheets from magazines. I am sure these collections would be totally indecipherable to someone else; they are more often images of texture, pattern and colour combinations. Abstract and often apparently meaningless, they are the references my mind needs to spark!

What draws you to plants?
My love of plants is personal. My earliest memories are all of snap shots of plants and my natural environment. The azaleas in our Sydney garden, the topsy-turvy tree at my primary school in England that would blossom in summer, beach landscapes and field walks. The diversity is endless, the workings of plants are beyond amazing, they create visual beauty to our world, and are life sustaining. Nature is the one true artist.

Can you tell us about one project you really enjoyed?
My current series ‘Fallowland’.  It is a departure from my previous style of working, both in medium and scale and the actual subject matter itself. It has been a wonderful experience to look on my surrounds with a new perspective.

I have said on more than one occasion that I have had to ‘make friends’ with the pieces for this series.

I have just let these artworks emerge and I have found it quite a confronting experience to let go of the control and just go with my natural instincts.

Amy Wright’s solo exhibition ‘Fallowland’ opens on Friday, 10 June 2016 from 6-8pm at Brunswick Street Gallery. The exhibition runs from 10 June to 23 June. Further details are available from Amy’s website, and you can follow her work on Facebook and Instagram.

All images by Martina Gemmola with styling by Ruth Welsby on location at Heide Museum of Modern Art.