Creative Face > Amanda Colwell

Meet one of the makers involved in our Christmas Art Fair, namely in the edible section, Amanda Colwell; friand extraordinaire and former Outback Arts leader. Read on for the lo down.

Hi Amanda! Where you from?

I’m not really from anywhere, as my dad was a bank manager so we have lived though Queensland, Fiji and NSW moving every 2 to 3 years, until I went to boarding school in Armidale. I worked in a bank in Coonamble when I left school so I could earn enough money to support myself at University (that’s how it worked back in the olden days….) and then I met Ken, so have been here ever since.

What will you be making for the Outback Arts Christmas Art Fair?

I will be making some more of the popular market sellers… beetroot relish, tomato chutney, capsicum and chilli jam, strawberry and vanilla jam,  mini fruit cakes with far too much brandy and of course as much flatbread as I can manage to roll out. I’m planning some white chocolate rocky road and shortbread too.

You are very active and involved in the Coonamble arts community, what have you been up to?

As a part of Coonamble Arts Alive we are soon planning what we can get up to in 2018. The Show Society is looking at a fresh new approach to the event next year, and the CWA branch I belong to will be working with Outback Arts for the Art4Ag event at the end of this month. Our patchwork group is winding up for the year too, so looking forward to our next get together, and frantically trying to finish (well, start and finish, to be truthful) a secret Santa parcel for that.

You are talented creating work across a variety of mediums…what is your preferred medium and why?

I do enjoy lots of different mediums however I keep coming back to fabrics and fibre as I know how they work and how I can manipulate them to create the effect I want. Either cutting it up and sewing it back together again, to fading, dying, printing, quilting, creating textures that are either decorative or practical, and sometimes even both. And if I don’t achieve what I am looking for, it will still keep the dog warm on a cold night.

Your latest focus has been on your cooking and we understand you have an exciting development with a local ceramic artist…tell us about that!

It’s all Anna’s idea! Ceramics and food is such a natural collaboration and I am so flattered to be asked to be involved. We are working on a series of postcards presenting her amazing ceramics pieces hard at work in a sharing atmosphere, with dips and nibbles that have been created to compliment the various flavours of flatbread I make. The recipes are included on the cards. We hope the second one will be ready to be launched at the OBA Christmas Art Fair.

A lot of people think you need to be city-based to make it in the art world, what would you say the advantages are of being a regional-based artist?

Benefits to being a regional  based artist, eh? Hmmm let me think. Probably too many to consider fully here, so dot points… originality, authenticity, honest feedback from people who “don’t know much, but know what they like”! Away from a phoney, shallow, consumer focused “scene”. A lot of hurdles to overcome in regards to access to quality materials, mentors, information, however I believe you should make the most of what you have, no matter your surroundings. Determination, intestinal fortitude and good internet access should overcome any feelings of isolation.

Our natural and built environment is a constantly changing source of inspiration, that can be interpreted in every form of art. You can keep your moody mountains and splashy seas….  give me the wide open black soil plains every time. Although the other places are nice to visit occasionally.

What other artistic developments would you like to see occur in our region?

I would love to see more developments along artist exchange programs in the whole OBA region. We have so much to offer city and OS based artists, including musicians, poets, stylists and designers as well as traditional artists and craftspeople. Residencies enrich the artists as well as the host community, and will also allow our people to have a reciprocal visit to another environment. I hope this can be part of the exciting new Hub being developed, which is such an exciting new venture for everyone.

What was your favourite development you were involved in when you were chairperson of Outback Arts?

While I was chair of OBA I was excited to see the ongoing use and development of the “Connecting Marks and Country” program as I still see it’s influences in works today. The beginnings of the Archie’s Art Prize saw its development back in those days too. The relocation to a bigger premises was a brave move and signalled a major change of tack for the organisation by being a larger visible presence locally, as well as a more effective advocacy and arts development agency for all the region. And exciting change is afoot again. I love change! Even when the milk changes position at IGA and I can’t find it!!

How would you describe your style?

My style… random! If it’s old I like it.

Why do you think it’s important to provide creative outlets and opportunities for people, especially in regional areas?

Next question…. another hard for this time of night! Many other people say it better than me, but words along the lines of personal satisfaction, creative outlet, being part of a larger group what inspire and learn from one another and following your heart irregardless of your circumstances are all in there. If it makes you happy, do it.

What have you got coming up?

Coming up… cooking, markets, printing, travel, renovations, a wedding… and hopefully some quality time with my sewing machine and a stack of UFOs (unfinished objects) that are at risk of becoming obsolete.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?

I’m not an artist, but if I didn’t do what I am doing, I guess I would have an immaculate house, neatly ironed clothes, park-like gardens and a regular date with a therapist.

Where can we see more of your stuff?

More of my stuff coming up at OBA gallery for the Christmas Art Fair and sometimes at Coonamble Cottage Industries.

Got a delish recipe you’d like to share with us??

Of course! Baked ricotta:

Serves 8-10. 10 mins prep, 25 minutes baking

250g ricotta, drained in a colander in the fridge overnight

2 cloves of garlic crushed with a teaspoon of salt flakes

50g semi dried tomatoes, chopped

50g kalamata olives, seeded and chopped

100g finely grated parmesan cheese divided (see method)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (chives, basil or parsley)

Olive oil to brush tin

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a loaf tin (any size) with baking paper, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with 20g parmesan cheese to coat. Mix all other ingredients lightly with 50g parmesan and pack softly into prepared tin. Top with half remaining parmesan cheese and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle last of parmesan cheese on top of loaf and grill carefully until golden.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lastly, Beatles or the Stones?

Always the Stones. “Miss You” is our song. Ahhh good times…. now I have an ear worm.