In the studio with Amelia Badenoch, a multidisciplinary artist whose practice explores avenues of past and present moments and familiar surroundings through bringing her subconscious to the forefront. We met with Amelia to tell us more about growing up in London, her intrigue in the human figure, and developing her works from moments of darkness.
When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?
During my time in Florence where I trained in the academic style of drawing and painting. (At The Florence Academy of Art). Although it was not the style of painting I wanted to continue, I knew that my desire to keep exploring my potential through painting had been realized.
Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?
I was born and brought up in London. However my mother is Indian and my father was Scottish. I grew up in a multicultural household and was always given the support and nourishment to develop my artistic ability. Coming from mixed race parents who come from opposite ends of the world gave me many avenues to explore and widened my understanding of how two cultures can influence your views, strengths and weaknesses. For example: meditation is a way that I develop my concepts as my work is based specifically on moments when i have been asleep i.e dreams and nightmares.
Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice?
Originally I was intrigued by the human figure, which led me to my time in Italy. However I felt a huge amount of constraint whilst being there. I felt the traditional influence of painting portraits and nudes from life dampened my creative side as I was following a particular method that demanded a specific approach to painting. Once leaving, the world became my oyster and my journey truly began. After spending time in India and working in a school for children that lived in extreme poverty; it was here I experienced the way that young girls and women were treated differently and the inequalities they currently face. This is also something I hope to return to and explore further one day. Moving on from this, Covid had a huge impact on me after losing someone close to me. I found the only place I could work through my grief was through painting. It was on the Turps Banana Studio Programme I began to develop my particular style and process of painting.
What’s the message of your work?
My message is still somewhat developing. It is about the subconscious and how this really comes to life when you are asleep. We never really discuss these quick moments that happen when our eyes are closed. It can be something wonderful, or something even traumatic that sticks with you or recurs. I find this to be fascinating as we as humans are mostly not in sync with this part of our brains. Although it happens to us all, these dreams and nightmares I’ve found can speak volumes to how we process our daily lives and also our past traumas and experiences.
I also find this to be a huge bodily experience. The moments of initially waking up from a sequence, be it happy or sad can have a big influence on the way your body feels and moves.
Who or what are your greatest influences?
The Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh’s teachings have given me a great source of comfort and inspiration throughout my meditative practice.
Artists such as Helen Frankethaler, Louise Bourgeois, Lee Krasner and Monet are all huge influences in my work, aesthetically and conceptually.
An unexpected source of inspiration?
Although my work develops from moments when I am in pure darkness, nature is something I am continually drawn to. The afternoon light on a tree, rose petals that have died on the ground and the ever changing color of the sky.
What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?
Personally, the most important takeaway is people are asking themselves questions. What is this place? Is it a reality or a fictitious moment? To me it’s not important to depict or label a specific ‘thing’. The viewer can have their own idea on what the painting represents. I want the viewer to move through the canvas with me, be it through a big brushstroke, or long line. If a figure is seen, I might not have seen it, or intentionally drawn/painted it. I thrive on the unexpected and as personal as these moments are for me, I want them to be personal to the viewer.
What events in your life have mobilised change in your practice?
During the second lockdown I began working in watercolor. I enjoyed the peace and the action of pushing thin paint across paper, giving myself no particular object to paint.
Wanting to finally work bigger, I found watered down acrylic paint had a beautiful consistency when loosely applied and I had not been able to achieve this with oils due to the surfaces I use. Abstraction became an obsession.
What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?
Conditions may vary during periods of working. Allowing my work to breathe is important to me as the business of the canvas can often become distracting. I find my most pure moments of painting are my initial brushstrokes.
Something in the future you hope to explore?
I have explored minimally with sculpture in the past, however it is something I have always been drawn to and feel I will be able to emphasize the physicalities and push the meaning of my work to a deeper level.
Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your works?
Getting high on a blue champagne sea is a representation of being metaphorically ‘frozen’. I often find myself in this state during the initial phases of falling asleep. Otherwise known as sleep paralysis. The experience itself is quite unpleasant, with my clenched fists and ringing in my ears- however the moments of diving in and out of the darkness gives me almost an outer body experience and it is something I am now consciously aware of and can almost control and bring myself back into my physical state of being.