While many know Amanda Shadforth for her contribution to the fashion industry, not all know that her creative career began in the art world.
With a disruptive ‘outsiders’ perspective to the fashion establishment, this sentiment and aesthetic continues to be explored in her art.
Taking cues from the Bauhaus movement, Amanda’s series ‘Utopia’ is the result of subconscious recollections of her childhood and an exploration of strong yet refined structures cast in deceptive materiality.
We get to know tastemaker Amanda Shadforth, who with her unique editorial eye, has the ability to seamlessly blend the worlds of fashion and art.
Your creative career began in art, what can you tell us about your start?
From an early age, I was a little bit of a square peg in a round hole when it came to my family, who are all heavily involved in construction and earthmoving. Fortunately, my family embraced my creativity, even though they found my love of art unfamiliar, and were incredibly supportive. I was naturally drawn to art at school, and after leaving high school I entered the world of sign writing. I then forged my own business and career in this space. After a while, I felt the need to extend my creativity, so I transitioned to fine art and opened my own art gallery. I’ve always loved to paint and work with my hands, so it’s a true joy to be able to dedicate a larger portion of my time to my art, while remaining a Creative Director in the fashion scene.
It’s been said that you offer an ‘outsiders’ perspective to the fashion establishment, is this also a sentiment you explore in your art and how so?
That’s a lovely compliment, I’ve always worked hard on having a unique voice. My approach to my work within the art space is a lot more personal. I’m drawing upon who I am as an individual and what I’m trying to say, whether it be literal or more from a subconscious perspective. Due to this process, I feel as though my perspective is naturally unique and it’s exciting to explore this side of myself.
What kind of parallels can you draw between the fashion and art worlds, and how has your experience in fashion informed your work as an artist?
I feel so lucky to be able to balance working within the realms of both genres. There are so many similarities and yet also so many differences. I love that in both I’m encouraged to be experimental with my creativity, but I must say that within the art world this is embraced on an entirely new level. I still think I have much to learn about myself in regards to pushing my creative limits, and there’s no better way to do this than through creating art.
Your collection ‘Utopia’ is inspired by the Bauhaus movement, what drew you to explore this?
It’s funny, I was only recently reflecting upon my inspiration for this collection, and the link to my childhood. When I was young my parents worked from home performing their business admin. You could think that a civil construction office would be quite stodgy and boring, however, the wall behind my Dad’s desk was covered in the most incredible wallpaper with shapes reflective of the Bauhaus movement. I grew up in the 80s and yet our home was decorated quite eccentrically with various wallpapers and references from the Bauhaus era. I think that somehow overtime this has left an imprint on my subconscious, and it has very sneakily found its way into my work.
"I think that somehow overtime this has left an imprint on my subconscious, and it has very sneakily found its way into my work."
You have always had a distinctly new & modern approach as an Art Director, what inspired you to deviate from your contemporaries?
I feel that with the rise of social media we’re saturated with imagery and content, and after a while it can feel a little homogenised. I really enjoy the challenge of thinking ‘outside the square’. I think it’s interesting and stimulating to create imagery and work that feels unique and inspirational.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
There are so many highlights from my career that it would be difficult to mention all of them, however being able to make my vocation my vacation and travel internationally brings a beautiful sense of fulfilment to my career. The relationships I have formed are truly special, and the cultural immersion nurtures my creativity. Having amazing brands embrace my uniqueness makes me feel truly humble. There is definitely a sense of fulfilment being entrusted by such iconic brands, to be able to use my creativity to support and highlight their campaigns, runway shows, and stories. Now re-entering the art world to such a warm response is a true highlight for me as well, which continues to energise my creativity.
Do you have any creative rituals that help you dive into your creative flow?
Yes, actually this can be a bit of a balancing act. I’m ultimately my most creative when I have a comfortable environment that’s free of emails, phone calls, and the white noise and pressures of the modern world. I’m sure so many artists would relate to this. It’s also important for me to stay connected to nature and the natural world, this is how I become grounded and allow my mind the space to conjure new ideas. I love to surf, there’s nothing better than switching off and feeling the rhythm of the ocean. Wherever possible I’ll go for a surf in the morning, then head back to the studio to get all of my equipment ready to begin. Having some good tunes or a podcast to listen to in the background allows me to settle in for the day.
Tigmi is Berber for ‘my home’, what do you hope your artworks add to the homes they are destined for?
I think it’s a lovely sentiment to imagine the spaces where your work may end up living. Usually, I’m so engrossed in the idea and process behind the art that this thought comes later, but it’s exciting to think of your art works future home. For me it’s not so much a literal ideal, but more one surrounding the idea of your work being treasured and honoured for what it is. Art to me is about evoking emotion and feeling. I love the idea of my work sparking conversation and memories within a home, whether it brings joy, curiosity or other emotions.
What have you enjoyed most about your return to the art world?
I would absolutely have to say the freedom. I’ve always felt free creatively but within the art space this freedom branches out to the farthest reaches of your imagination. I also love the fact that I’m able to push myself to learn new processes and ways of expressing myself, I’m learning more and more about who I am creatively every day.
What’s next for you Amanda?
I’m so excited about the future as I have some exciting ideas bubbling away. I’m working on a new body of work that’s slightly different again, the work is unfolding as I create it but I also have a good idea of how it will cohesively come together. I believe I’ll be travelling internationally again over the following months which I’m also looking forward to. Travel always brings fresh ideas and an invigorated approach to the spectrum of what I have in mind for future work.
Portraits by Amanda Shadforth
Exhibiting at our Byron Bay studio from 9 June, ‘Utopia’ is available exclusively with Tigmi