For Amber Wallis, good art is instinctive art. “My work definitely comes from a kind of automatic process,” she says. “That alchemy and that process is what always triggers the next work. The art kind of feeds itself.”
In this schema, remaining faithful to one’s process is paramount. “As an artist, you have to be really honest with yourself,” says the 32-year-old, who recently undertook residencies in New York, Montreal and Paris after winning the 2008 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. “You have to let your process unfold.
“Maybe it doesn’t happen as quickly as you’d like it to or maybe your left with something you didn’t set out to do, but you’re left with what you’re left with at the end of the day.”
The Sydney-based artist’s uncannily titled new show at Utopian Slumps resonates with this sense of artistic immediacy. Created in an isolated home studio overlooking the coast north of Sydney, the striking paintings, drawings and collages of I Fuck Mountains are as loose and fluid as they are urgent and electric. The curve of the landscape buckles and shifts; hills, valleys and contours assume vivid new forms.
“I guess the fucking of mountains is about impossibility in a way,” says Wallis. “It’s about hurdles, about the landscape and the sexual landscape and the merging of those things. I’ve been working in a studio in the home, in an area where I don’t know anyone and don’t have a network of friends, so I’m incredibly isolated and have become very insular,” she continues. “I guess this year’s been a period of great sexual frustration in a sense.”
But such frustrations aren’t without reward. “Where I’m living is the most beautiful place. I wake up and I can see the water and I look out over trees, and when I’m lying in bed all I see is nature, you know, and it’s beautiful. Maybe all that’s going on in my head right now is the beach and sex,” she laughs. “Looking out over the water to some mountains and sex.” Another laugh.
“I might draw a hill or make a scratch or a mark, and that can become a cloud or a penis or love,” she continues. “It all just feels very natural at the moment. It’s this absolute basic foundation of something that can become more things.”
Amber Wallis’s I Fuck Mountains opens at Utopian Slumps on Thursday night and runs until October 23.