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In the Studio with Amy Wistanley

Amy Wistanley's paintings revolve around sub-conscious terrains, reflecting on life in a continual flux, from grief, to love to the plain humdrum of the everyday. We meet with Scottish artist Amy Wistanley to tell us more.

Firstly, How has your artist practice evolved and been shaped throughout the years?

I have always enjoyed painting, even as a kid, but I actually studied Sculpture as my degree at the Edinburgh College of Art. When I graduated it felt like a natural progression to move to painting as my main practice. The more I have worked with the medium over the years, the more I am fascinated by it. I do a lot of reading, writing, walking and thinking, and all of these come into my painting practice. I have come to value what goes in to the painting other than actually painting and now I don’t see a hierarchy with any of them as I couldn’t do one without the other. 

Where are you from? Did you study Fine Arts?

I am from Dumfries & Galloway, a large rural region in the south west of Scotland. I grew up in a small village with a huge amount of freedom to play and roam in the landscape. My rural upbringing has shaped how I relate to the world and has shaped my art practice.

I studied a BA (Hons) Sculpture degree at the Edinburgh College of Art from 2001-2005. I have moved a lot around Scotland over the years. I studied a Master of Fine Art in Amsterdam at the Sandberg Instituut from 2017-2019. I am now based in Glasgow.

Untitled, 2019

Oil on canvas
118 x 102 cm

Swaay (Doubt), 2019

Oil on canvas
84 x 77 cm

How would you describe your aesthetic? Where do you get the narratives from?

My work is colourful (but it’s not about colour per se, I would say more about the relationships of colour to each other), it has energy, form, movement and tension in it. I work in an intuitive way, with a few on the go at the same time, thus each painting informs the other. I am fascinated by humanity’s relationship to ‘nature’ and my work looks at ways in which we relate to the world through different ideas like feminist phenomenology to ecological thinking. This is coupled with my personal experiences of life from grief to love to the plain humdrum every day. I like that the act of painting itself ‘marries’ all my interests into one moment, this might be a conscious choice of form, colour and mark-making to a spontaneous gesture of ‘non-thought’. 

Untitled, 2017

Oil on canvas
72 x 59 cm

What do you want people to take from your work when they view the work?

I would like people to take what they want from my paintings, this can be anything on the whole spectrum of feelings from indifference to being enamoured by it. It really is up to the viewer. Either way, it doesn’t influence how I paint, I am not thinking about how it might be viewed when I am painting, if I do this it inhibits the creative process. That’s not to say I don’t want it to be viewed; the audience is very much a part of the work as the painting ‘comes alive’ when it is viewed by someone, but the audience isn’t the influencer of the work.

What’s coming up next? Any future projects, collaborations, exhibitions?

I have two solo shows this autumn in Glasgow for which I will be making new work for. I am one part of a collective of five female artists who exhibit and write together and we are launching a publication of our essays in Amsterdam in March. We are also doing a group show together in Seoul, South Korea in April. I also have work in a group exhibition in London from 25 Feb – 8 Mar, as part of the Warbling Collective.

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