Amber Wallis - We Are Inspired

We recently paused for a moment to speak the incredibly talented Amber Rose Wallis. A beautiful painter based in the Northern Rivers of NSW and represented by Nicholas Thompson Gallery based here in our local streets of Collingwood. Our interview came at a time after the devastating floods that hit the state, and we are so grateful to have been able to connect with her and hear a little about her experience through that harrowing time. Amber shows great vulnerability in her interview, a brave and courageous woman who has altered her life path for the betterment of herself and her young daughter whilst flourishing in her creative field. We are inspired by her story and hope you enjoy reading her words.

Can you share a little more about yourself, your upbringing, and background — what has been integral in becoming the woman you are today?  
I was born in New Zealand and grew up on the fringes of society in the 1980s on Waiheke and Great Barrier Island. My family bartered for services and one of my brothers grew crops of Marijuana, they were also fisherman. I was sexually abused as a child within those fringes and consequently my mother removed me from that world. My mother was an artist, and I was surrounded by her artistic friends in Auckland and later Sydney. She died in 2012 and I am now a single mother myself to a daughter. 
I think those pivotal life moments have defined how I move through the world. Those are the hardships, but the beauty has come from creative friendships and living a creative life which has taken me around the world and continues to provide a fertile ground for living and sharing that world with my daughter.
 

Is there a metaphor, a quote, a piece of writing, or visual composition that is speaking to you right now? 
‘The sexual life is usually enveloped in many layers, for us all - poets, writers, artists. It is a veiled woman, half-dreamed.’ Anais Nin
Currently I feel like my painting reflects this quote. It feels like an abstract merging of the feminine, a sexual life, a dream life and the veiled woman who is sage like, yet also hidden or ungraspable. 
 

What are some of your favourite books — ones you’ve either recently read or that you have perhaps given to others as gifts?
Recently, Real Estate by Deborah Levy. It’s the last in her recent trilogy and it speaks so directly to the feminist, creative and mother in me. It’s a subtle brilliant read. 
Recently Keri Hulme died, her novel The Bone People is profound and felt life changing to me, poetic, dark, beautiful. 
Jeanette Winterson always.
 

Unexpected pairings. I love learning how artists think about combining things in unexpected yet delightful ways. In the name of unconventionality, what comes to mind for you? 
I have a lot of sexual figurations in my work, albeit at times subtle, it’s not necessarily reality but rather an ode or a call to a fantasy life free of sexual trauma. But it's also mixed with something fundamentally boring which is that I always see the bodies as stacks or structures and how they take up space in the composition. 
Our minds work in strange ways, and I think painting is just making sense of some things however odd or abstract they might be. 
I’m also very interested in domestic space that is both interior and exterior at the same time, representing freedom and a domestic tethering simultaneously. 

  

The recent floods throughout New South Wales and Queensland have been catastrophic and our hearts are with all who have suffered great loss throughout this time. Can you share a little about your experience?
I was very lucky; I only lost a car. However, my partner lost everything, he had a hair-raising experience swimming his young children out of his Mullumbimby home to relative safety only to have to swim them elsewhere for further safety. In all honesty I can’t really put words to it yet. I think words often fail me which is why I paint. I keep thinking of the saying ‘safe as houses’, and I think when your safety is destroyed the psychological toll is incredibly high and I hope that those affected can find solace in the amazing community that we are witnessing here, and that the trauma can leave in time, and they can feel safe again. 
 

We highly recommend following Amber Wallis and her beautiful artworks on Instagram if you are not already.
 
We also encourage everyone to offer any support they can, large or small, to those affected by the floods by clicking the links below:
 
Lismore Regional Gallery Recovery Fund
 
Arts Northern Rivers Flood Recovery 
 
Northern Rivers Flood Fund
  
Shop The Items:
 
Fask Top - Chalk   $140 Ren Pant - Camel  $350
Lan Top - Sage Green   $300
Soln Pant - Ecru   $330