maker spotlight - AMANDA BROOKING
Amanda Brooking is a new resident artist at XCHC. Below is an interview with Amanda just after she moved into the XCHC, her gentle enthusiasm is contagious.
How do you define your creative practice?
I’m a print-maker that works with textiles — I see paper and fabric being very similar, in that they have similar origins. I like to use thread and textile as the basis for my working drawings.
When/Why did you start working in this particular field?
Straight after school I went to Otago School of Art and studied ceramics. In my early 30’s, I went back to Otago and majored in printmaking and minored in textiles. After that I came to Christchurch and started working in a studio on Tuam Street called the ‘Old Blue Kiwi’.
What are some inspirations for your work?
My grandmother influenced me in many ways, through her I learned to love old crafts and texiles. And she lived through the depression era, so from her I internalized that you should never chuck anything out. I think it is because of her that I am naturally a collector.
Tell us a little about your process:
I love nests, it is something made out of things that are available. My process is very organic in a similar way, I make things from what I find, Im a bit of a hoarder in that way, but I see something creative in everything I find.
Do you have your own business, if so where did your business name come from?
I moved from the Old Blue Kiwi on Tuam Street to a shop front on High Street in 2003 and started a business called Quadrata. It was a place where I could continue to create work but it was also a place where the public could come in. Other artists wanted to get on board and it just took off.
Quadrata means ‘square’ in Latin, the name comes from the Quadrata Cross, which is a cross with four equal arms — it is highly symbolic.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
I had Quadrata for a few years, then developers came along, took over the building, and I had to go. I was crushed — that cut quite deeply. That happened in 2007-ish and since then I have not been practicing much, then the earthquakes happened and in a sense that really stalled things out.
But one thing I knew is that I just had to follow my passion and listen to the inner calling which is always there — I know it sounds cliché but it is really true for me.
What made you take the leap of faith to return to your practice and come to XCHC?
Over the last year I could feel this welling up and need to be creative again. Since Quadrata closed I tried doing some work from home, but I felt really isolated. So when my friend Sylvia told me about XCHC it sounded perfect.
Being in a shared studio space is a natural way for me to work. I like to be in in a collaborative space where I can be around other people that work off each other. That is really important for me, isolation does not work for me. The XCHC gives me a space where I can focus on what I enjoy and that is making and creating my work.
This space also makes me feel quite safe, I don’t have to think about the financial burden of having my own space. I don’t have to worry like I did at Quadrata, I feel really safe here.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since establishing your practice/business?
(Laugh!) I think it is the fact that I can continually create from nothing — the fact that my art practice does not have anything to do with financial limits, the creative process is always there. And I’m proud of the fact that I can return to my practice after being away from it for a long time and do my work again.
What is a project you have collaborated or developed with others, and what did you take away from the experience?
That would have been Quadrata. Artists need each other, artists need to bounce things off of each other, feed off of each other. Most people have a place of work to go to, artists need that too. We need a place where people just get you.
You are based in Christchurch, how has that effected your work?
I’m aware of how much we have been grieving, and I feel like this time of grieving for our losses collectively and personally is passing and we are coming into a new time as Cantabrians. And for me, I feel like it is ok to start to create again.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?Don’t feel afraid to reach out, we need each other.
How can people find out more about you?
They can join my Facebook page: Amanda Brooking Artist