I couldn’t tell you when I first started following Amica Whincop on Instagram – long enough for me to have included some of her pieces in mood boards at my desk and long enough that I have even tried to paint my own take on her unique style of painting (to little success). It’s hard to explain it, but ever since I discovered her bold, vibrant and atmospheric pieces, built of layers upon layers upon layers, I have been enraptured with her world. Recently I was lucky enough to speak with the Sunshine Coast artist about her work, her vision, and what’s next.
Raised in a holiday park on The Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, Amica Whincop spent her childhood exploring the island; foraging for oak leaves, feathers and acorns. “I have always felt happiest outside or making. As a kid, we were lucky enough to live in a holiday camp [which] was right beside the beach with fields and parks all around. I just loved exploring and collecting things. I would come back with armfuls of oak leaves, feather and acorns, and make little collages or collect bugs and beetles and make mini-worlds for them out of shoeboxes.”
Now, living in a 100-year-old Queenslander in the country town of Gympie, Amica draws on her childhood experiences surrounded by nature to create the minimalist, abstract paintings she has become known for. “Nature has a subtle beauty that manifests effortlessly. Both simple and complex, it creates harmonic designs and colour palettes with ease,” says Amica.“I work intuitively and spontaneously, so I literally don’t know what I’m going to do until I get there. I love this because I’m a perfectionist, so it gets me out of my head and places me in the moment.”
This is reflected in her medium of choice; fluid, water-based materials (watercolour, acrylic paint, or ink). “I love fluid mediums because they have such great reactions. If you drop ink into water it’s just so beautiful the way it moves. I also love reactions, like mixing two opposing elements like an enamel spray paint with watercolour. They are immediately responsive; reminding me that life does not allow for ‘do overs’. The fluidity of my materials allows me to be spontaneous, with no plan or obligation other than to react to what is happening with the paint, the canvas, the brush and the moment.”
By working with fluid materials that follow their own mind, as opposed to the will of the artist, Amica is able to immerse herself in the natural rhythms of these mediums, allowing the piece to form and grow in its own way.
“I work intuitively and spontaneously, so I literally don't know what I'm going to do till I get there. No plans, at best a loose idea of colour choices. I love this because I'm a perfectionist, so it gets me out of my head and places me ‘in the moment.’”
Her pieces are clearly identifiable by the biomorphic, geometric, stone-like elements that have become her signature.
“I discovered it by accident. I had taken 6 months off everything to focus on my art making after being an art teacher, and I really struggled to find my own uniqueness. One day I was so fed up, I looked at yet another canvas that I was disappointed with, and just start painting over parts I didn’t like, pretty much out of frustration and these shapes popped up and I loved it! It felt like a ‘coming home’ kind of feeling. From there, I decided to do all my paintings backwards like this: make a mess and clean it up.
“Letting the work form itself, I move the paint around intuitively with water, gravity and spray paint. Layering with pours and washes imitates natural processes and formations. Once the chaos of the initial stages has been resolved, I regain control by working white paint into the composition to define edges and lift underlying layers to the fore.”
“The painting really forms itself and when I feel like there’s enough there I go back into it, lifting out areas, and taking areas away until these stone-like forms start to appear. Eventually, it feels balanced - like a song with the right amount of pauses between each word, but instead with the right amount of space between each shape.”
Having showcased internationally and across Australia, as well as being included in the likes of Grand Designs and The Block, Amica has found an audience that loves the mess of her work as much as she does.
“It was definitely a huge high working with Georgia and Ronnie on the Block. Getting the call from Georgia out of the blue to design a piece in their palette was pretty darn cool. The most exciting feeling though was right at the start, when I decided to stop comparing myself, or not feeling good enough about my art and just put it out there. Now I can’t believe how much I limited myself in the past.”
In the coming months, Amica will be focusing on an exhibition titled “essence” which she will be debuting at The Other Art Fair in Sydney.
Forthcoming Exhibitions 2018
- The Other Art Fair, Sydney - March 22 - 25th
- Art Lovers Prize Shortlist Exhibition | Left Bank Gallery, Gold Coast, April 7th
- Solo exhibition | Soho Gallery in Sydney - May 5th -June 5th.
- Solo at Art Images Gallery | Adelaide | June 29 - July 29 and
- Dual exhibition | Left Bank Gallery, Gold Coast July 30th - Aug 31st.
Discover her work
- Art Images Gallery Adelaide
- Soho Galleries Sydney
- Metropolis Gallery Melbourne
- Bay Gallery Home, Tetbury, UK
Images: Amica Whincop
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