Amber Wallis started painting in her late twenties. She grew up in New Zealand, spent her teenage years in Sydney, and then travelled through North America. Eventually she could no longer ignore the niggle to paint, and settled in Melbourne where she enrolled in postgraduate studies at VCA. In 2008, Amber won the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship in 2008, and has been painting full-time since then. ‘I have been painting ever since, while juggling the financial pressures of life, but painting is the thing that will continue and what I navigate my life around,’ she explains.
These days Amber works from her home studio in Bangalow in Northern NSW. ‘My studio looks out over a koala corridor and backs onto farmland, and is very peaceful,’ she says. It is here that Amber has been busy preparing for her current show Still Life/Cactus/Skelephone – a show that revisits and builds upon the ideas stemming from an original body of work she created in 2012. ‘That body of work dealt a lot with grief but also the fecundity of life and this show feels like a continuation of that.’
Inspired by her mother’s ceramic practice in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and how she would meticulously place objects around the home, many of Amber’s paintings subtly reference her mother’s tendency to create impromptu still life compositions. ‘I guess there are glimmers of that in the works structurally, they are stiller than my usual style, yet the still life is oblique, it becomes a tool to explore painting really,’ Amber explains.
Generally working in oil on linen, Amber says she prefers to work with a loose plan while painting, and is usually guided by a theme or event directly taken from her life and surroundings. While painting this particular series she says, ‘I am trying to have no rules and be open to breaking my own style. It’s easy to get into habits when you paint, it’s tough trying to break them. I want my paintings to have a life of their own.’
Still Life/Cactus/Skelephone is currently showing at Edwina Corlette Gallery in Brisbane, while Amber is looking forward to creating new works for Sydney Contemporary in September.
Still Life/Cactus/Skelephone by Amber Wallis
Open until 27th June 2015
Edwina Corlette Gallery
2/555 Brunswick Street
New Farm QLD