Amy Mills // Featured Artist

Origin Story:

I went to Canberra Institute of Technology to study a Bachelor of Design and majored in photography. At the end of my course I produced what were really, fine art photographs, which went on to be exhibited in three different galleries.

One of my design teachers pulled me aside at the end of my degree and said “go to Art School!” At the time I was like “nooooo I’ve just finished a 3 year degree.” So I wasn’t keen to go back and study. I then moved to Sydney and interned for a company, I didn’t find what I was looking for, so after the internship I decided, “fuck it, let’s do this.”

I applied for UNSW Art and Design and chose it because I knew people who went there who had highly recommended it. And I got in!

I’m now in my third year and majoring in SPI – Sculpture, Performance and Installation. I think it was a very natural progression for me as my photography work was very introspective.

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So your teacher had a big influence on you then?
Yes. She was the one who I felt believed in my work the most.

How important has that ‘hero’ of your work been to your art practice and your journey?
She gave me a letter of reference and when I got in, said “I told you so!” She was a huge influence on me, and my decision. Her name is Silvia Ve’lez

Can you define your art practice?
I’m an emerging artist and my practice is performance and installation based. My work is heavily based in audience participation. That’s what makes the work. I’m obsessed with the body. I’m concerned with endurance and that relates to my incurable illness and the own frustrations I feel at my bodies limitations.

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What do you plan on doing when you finish?
Well… I’m going on to do honours. So at the end of 2016 I would love to go overseas to do a 3-6 month residency, haven’t looked into which programs yet, but a couple of my friends have done them in Iceland which I think would be amazing. Hopefully then I will come back to Sydney and get a studio space.

I’m realistic and I know that I can’t support myself as an emerging artist fully by my own art. So I hope to I work for a charity or in advocating. I currently work with Rare Voice Australia – which advocate for people with rare diseases and for obvious reasons, I feel very passionate about this type of work. So I would love to get into advocacy, I’d also be really happy to work for someone like the Greens. I like to advocate for the under dogs. Perhaps that’s in my future… advocating for the arts and the underdogs, perhaps through funding and programs.

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What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Breaking into the Sydney Arts Scene. Being at Art & Design has helped me a lot, but I think young emerging Artists shouldn’t just rely on one point of contact. I think it’s really important to get out there and meet people… you need to have 24 back plans at least at any one time!

There is a bit of nepotism within the Sydney Art scene. There are one or two artists that hit the zeitgeist and then they are the next big-thing for the next few years. I feel like the atmosphere it Why should we open it up to the new comer who has no experience? There’s a whole heap of “who you know, not what you know.” I feel that it’s really important for a young artist not to just rely on one entry point. Like me coming to Create or Die.

Getting in touch with people who are experienced is also really important, we really can learn from people who have learned and lived in the industry. I’ve gotten in touch with other artists, but I feel that I need a mentor.

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What has been your favourite project that you have done so far?

I would have to say my first project, because it was the first time I really felt like an artist.

I took 300 photographs. 10 shots a day for 30 days. It was of me taking my medication. Anthropological study of a human. I just took the images devoid of emotion, just going through the motions. But then I printed them all out small and put them into a huge installation, I could see all this emotion that I hadn’t realized. It went into galleries and I thought “Oh… maybe I am an artist!” And it was very personal but very empowering at the same time; getting into a gallery and showing the public that I am an artist. It wasn’t about selling the art, it was more about showing the public “This is my art practice” It was something tangible that I could show people – “hey this is what I want to do as an artist.” It was validation and it was a big step that led me to my next degree, so it was a bit of a stepping-stone.

Performance art is very ephemeral, a painting can last essentially a couple of hundred years, but a performance is so much about the space you are in and the moment you are in. And it can disappear but there’s something so unique and beautiful about that. But essentially if I want to make money I need to document it! Ha!

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What do you wish was out there to help emerging artists
A manual, like the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, that you open up and it talks to you. The rule-book would also tell you how to write an application for funding. It would tell you everything.

What / who inspires you?
My main artist influences are Marina Ambrovomic, people like the Brown Council (they are a collective who do amazing work), Hannah Wilkie, because her whole art practice was about feminism and utilising her body, then she got sick and she did a photographic work about how beauty fades and how women are objectified in a different way when they get sick, she was very confronting but used her body in such a beautiful way.

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How do you find inspiration? Working with others is really inspirational. Working with my collective, Show us Your Teeth. Bouncing ideas off other each other, you build ideas upon ideas until you have this fully formed concept. It’s amazing. Also research and being in touch with your community with what’s around you and what’s going on.

What does Create or Die mean to you?

That Deb will kill me if I don’t create.

Amy is currently part of the Create or Die Internship Program and will be exhibiting as part of The Create or Die Collective on September 10th.

~ Deb ~

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