Amanda Marburg’s Newham studio space is small. It’s dominated by a couple of desks, covered with tiny plasticine models, multiple jars of brushes and a few scattered photographs. There are a few paintings on the wall behind. At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking she is a sculptor.
But Amanda is quick to point out that she’s “a terrible photographer” and she’s “definitely not a sculptor.” Nor is she an animator. She considers herself a painter and the ‘naive sculpting’ of plasticine models and the photographs she takes of those models, are merely tools she uses on the way to a painting.
“I know what I want the painting to look like when I’m making the model,” she says.
“The plasticine models act as my sketches – they’re my way of working things out.
“I then light them in particular ways to create mood and to make the most of their dirtiness, their roughness. I want to capture the dust, the fingerprints and all of the mistakes, which bring a sense of relief to the final painting.
“I couldn’t get there – to the painting – without doing these steps. I couldn’t paint directly from the model. The photograph is an integral stage; there’s something in that transition from model to photograph that inspires something in the painting. The process has been pretty much the same for me since 2001. It’s the only way I know how to get the result I want,” she says.
Amanda studied painting at the Victoria College of Arts, finishing in 1999. Since her first show at the Rex Irwin Gallery in Sydney in 2001, she has held solo exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne almost every year. She has participated in numerous group shows at leading galleries and she was a finalist in the 2011 and 2013 Archibald Prize.
Inspiration for her works comes from life around her – from the Internet, from films, or from literature that she may be reading.
Earlier in her career she did a lot of tromp l’oeil painting and paintings based on ‘bad photography’ – “over exposed images and ‘bad’ family photographs that I could ‘play with’ to create my own works.”
“I’m usually inspired by images that I find and like; or it can be about I’m what I’m watching, reading or listening to. All of a sudden something clicks and I’m into another series. The painting is definitely the best part of the process. I find the model-making meditative but I really just love painting.”
Amanda considers her Australian Arts Council Studio residencies in Rome (2008) and Barcelona (2016), her career highlights thus far.
“Those three-month residencies were amazing opportunities and my next six or seven shows were inspired by things I saw or did in Italy. I did a lot of watercolour painting, photography and model-making while I was there.
“In Barcelona it was all about Gaudi and Picasso and food and drink. I did a lot of drawings there too. When you travel, you see stuff in real life that you’ve only ever known in books; and when you see a 600-year-old painting ‘in the flesh’ it’s and awe inspiring thing.”
She is currently considering her options for future works.
"I've done still life shows, I've done portraits, I've done animals and people but there are still a lot of ideas I want to explore yet. I'm not done with this yet....and I quite like the idea of working Plein Air. It's nice to sit outside and work and I want to do a lot more of the landscapes from around here," she says.