Local artist gets back to nature for art’s sake

A journey back into education has brought local artist Amanda Watson’s creativity close to nature and close to a major international art award.

A series of work for her Master of Arts (Painting) at Wintec entitled Painting Encounters with the Land is being exhibited at Ramp Gallery from Tuesday, February 11 to Friday, February 28.

One of these paintings was long-listed for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2020 and will be exhibited as a digital image at the London exhibition in March and printed in the Future Now Anthology 2020 book due out soon.

Launched in 2007, the Aesthetica Art Prize supports the next generation of talent across new visual media and attracts thousands of entries each year from across the globe.

“I’m so stoked that this painting will be part of the conversations about our global environment and our relationship with the land,” she says.

It’s 20-years since Amanda completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland and this journey back to art school has seen Amanda taking the tools of her trade into the bush around Taranaki and Whaingaroa.

Some of these treks take up to 40-minutes and several trips to get all the gear in situ; once there she drapes canvas, some over two-metres wide, over rock faces, parts of trees, plants and other organic matter on the ground. Once in position Amanda applies and removes paint, tips water and repositions the canvas.

Some of these paintings meld together different landscapes, one large piece took shape in bush near Ngarunui Beach, Wairēinga Falls (Bridal Veil) and a favourite waterfall in Taranaki.

“I’m working in collaboration with the land, and building up a view of the land and place,” she says.

Amanda has a special relationship with both Taranaki and Whaingaroa; her roots started in New Plymouth where she was born and grew up, and for the last 20 years Whaingaroa has been home – a place where she has grown roots with her husband and children and her art.

The 20-years in between Elam and Wintec have been filled with art; she’s held many exhibitions around the country and overseas, been a finalist in many art awards, and studied in a Summer School at the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

Doing her masters was always something Amanda had yearned to do and in 2018 she decided to challenge her creative thinking.

She says having the formal critique of her work by her Wintec tutors and peers was a key part of her growth and development as an artist. “I’ve learned heaps about my practice.”

Not one to rest on her laurels, Amanda is looking forward to hearing back about a couple of projects she has applied for this year.

Amanda has applied to do a Creative New Zealand and Department of Conservation Wild Creations project in Kahurangi National Park where she could work with the Beech forests and alpine environments.   Plus, she has proposed a commission for the Beehive in Wellington and is waiting to hear back about that.  In September she will have an exhibition at Atelier Gallery in Nelson, and before that she will continue to paint and show work at her dealer gallery in Mt Eden, Foenander Galleries.  You can also see her work on her website www.amandawatson.com.

Check out Painting Encounters with the Land which is being exhibited at Ramp Gallery, 111 Collingwood St, Hamilton from Tuesday-Friday 12th-28th February, 12.30-4pm.  .

Janine Jackson