"The works in Murky Sex Paintings jostle between interior spaces, exteriors, landscape and sexual figuration. They have been slowly tendered and much mused-upon in the same way that becoming a parent has slowly made me reflect on what it meant to be parented.
Growing up in New Zealand’s counter culture communities while living in handmade houses on the fringes of society, I was sexually abused. I have always obliquely referenced and hinted at this in the past but this is the first time I have disclosed it publicly. Within some works I have referenced my father’s 1970s book ‘Woodstock Handmade Houses’ as a way to obliquely reference this experience through the utopian architecture of the time. I have always been interested in the failure of these communities - where communes go bad and the haphazard yet lovingly created structures crumble.
But these works are a merging of time, terrain and subject matter, so they are also a reclamation of my sexuality as a woman and single parent in Northern NSW - a place also known for its rich history of handmade homes and utopian ideals, both failed and realised.
More importantly, the works are about painting. They are murky, raw, intuitive and delicate. They are intentionally unegoic and the subject matter has been allowed to straddle the divide of abstraction and representation. The forms are painted on raw linen, this process is an ode to Helen Frankenthaler and the materiality associated with feminism. It also provides limitations within the painting process, necessitating restraint, like drawing, to enable the paint to seep and stain the linen. Overworking has been avoided and the works have been allowed to be what they are - often in a state of beginning." Amber Wallis 2019
ACCOMPANYING SHORT STORY BY AMANDA MAXWELL // COMING BACK
Amanda Maxwell's work of fiction "Coming Back" draws loosely upon Amber’s story of sexual abuse and her journey away from her early home life as a result of it. The story also deals with ecological themes, informed by Amanda’s background as an environmental scientist.
Amanda and Amber met nearly two decades ago in Vancouver. They formed an instant bond upon learning that much of their early lives, whilst never overlapping, had been lived in the same beautiful but sometimes incredibly dark landscapes of New Zealand.
Though they now live in small towns hundreds of miles apart (Amber in Mullumbimby, NSW and Amanda in Torquay, VIC), they talk every day. These paintings and story were created in parallel to their daily exchange, and whilst the works were never intentionally the focus of it, they are a product of it. They are what has come out of a true friendship and mutual artistic respect, shared over a long time.