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AMANDA DUKE

Two themes form areas of continuous exploration for me; ‘Close By’ and ‘Further Away’.

‘Close By’ directs me down the paths of my own garden, local downland walks and woodlands. A year long residency at Sussex Prairie Garden, nr Henfield evoked what I expect to be a lifelong interest in very early botanical illustration, especially the ancient herbals. Investigating and experimenting with ways to record plant foliage and flora is an on-going process. I observe, collect, press, sketch, print, photograph and document the plants that interest me, especially those that I have grown, can eat or use to dye fabric. Natural dyeing and printing yields harmonious earthy colours and fascinating marks onto natural fibre fabrics and cotton rag paper. Using the collection of samples and experiments I move on to develop layered works on fabric and paper, assembling fragments to aesthetic arrangements. The paper works are refined with additional top layer drawings and collage elements and the fabric works are unified with hand or machine stitching. Outcomes feel complete when an archival quality is achieved, this relates back to my interest in the herbals, in particular works in de Materia Medica by the Greek Physician, pharmacologist and botanist Dioscorides.

 

‘Further Away’ is a series of works related to my excursions away from home. Whilst I prefer to live and work in the calm of a rural environment the chaos found in a city can also stimulate my ideas. Humans create an alternative discordant beauty in the built environment. Haphazard juxtapositions of old and new buildings. Graphic patterns made by repetitive windows on shiny slick skyscrapers, crumbling weathered peeling surfaces on dilapidated older buildings. Recent visits to Jaipur led me to record the impact of this particular city on my senses and memory. A series of fast paced paper collage works on different scales attempted to mirror the forces of nature battling with human intervention in the Pink City. I embraced the challenge to recreate the immediacy and energy of gestural marks using fibre reactive dyes in clashing discordant colour on fabric, then used my stash to arrange layered compositions adding free motion embroidery. 

 

My next steps will involve me in more risk-taking approaches to hand and machine stitching. The ongoing quest to achieve fresh gestural, intuitive marks on fabric that capture the light, colour and texture of the urban environment is powerfully irresistible.