“Storytelling is woven through everything I do… I believe that when you follow your passions, the energy that goes into your work is woven with this magic...” - Amanda Shadforth
Amanda Shadforth is an artist in the purest sense. Her’s is a world of possible canvases, where her creative direction and approach to composition, find beauty and sculpture in the most unexpected ways. Filled with an almost cinematic narrative, her work spans the digital space to that of oil on canvas and more recently, polymer, paint and planter sculptures - a new medium and body of work that uses processes and techniques that were entirely self-taught. Having spent much of the last few decades lending her unique vision to the campaign and editorial content of international luxury brands as well as her own online journal Oracle Fox, the transition back to fine art expresses something of Shadforth’s dexterity, courage and curiosity. An unquestionable talent, we spoke to Amanda to hear more about this next chapter and how work underpinned by passion, weaves its own tangible magic.
Physically, where are you right now? Are you at home, on holiday, in the office or elsewhere?
I’m currently sitting at a gorgeous big mid century desk in my new studio, surrounded by some of my favourite furniture pieces, and a new body of artwork I have started working on.
How do you personalise and shape your environment and what are some of the objects, or possessions, that hold the most sentiment for you?
I’ve realised over time that the items in which I hold the most value are the pieces that tell a story. I have a passion for collecting furniture from different periods and I especially love really unusual pieces. It’s so exciting when you come across an interesting vessel that speaks to your soul, or a lovely handmade artisan piece. Some of my favourite pieces I’ve picked up at flea markets. I love the thrill of the chase of discovering something special that someone else has discarded. One of my favourite pieces is a vintage Pacific Green table lamp that 2 of my girlfriends helped hunt down. I’ve also found it difficult to part with some of the more experimental pieces that I’ve made, especially the sculptures as they took so much time and energy to create.
As a fine artist and creative director, you have an incredible eye for finding narrative in composition - as if an image simply captures a still point; a moment in a scene that might continue to unfold. To what extent does storytelling play a part in your work and how much of your own story is woven into your creative projects?
This is such a lovely question and one that really resonates with my ethos and the way I see the world. I think that being an artist for many years has allowed me to approach my fashion work with an individualised eye. Storytelling is woven through everything I do whether it’s my work as a Creative Director or a beautiful still life that I’m working on. I believe that when you follow your passions, the energy that goes into your work is woven with this magic, and it translates to the finished product. I’m very much inspired by nature, historical books on art and design, and also pop culture. I think if you look closely you’ll see this symbology appear in a lot of the work that I do.
You often introduce something unexpected in your editorials: a clash of opposites, objects out of context, an urban world colliding with the beauty and texture of the natural environment. The effect is immediate and emotional - a sense of freedom forged through having a unique and personal perspective. How important is it to you, as an artist, to experiment, explore and challenge boundaries dictated by the ‘norm’?
As an artist, I almost feel as though I have a hall pass to be able to play around with challenging the norm. I also feel as though now more than ever that it’s important to experiment with your own way of doing things as the world feels so small, and we’re so oversaturated with content. I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of opposites, I’m a Libran, so I love experimenting with balance, as well as adding a little bit of fun to everything I do. The world can be such a serious place sometimes and it’s exciting to be able to have fun and bring joy into people's lives.
SAARA: OF by Amanda Shadforth, Oracle Fox Editorial
For every good idea there are many more we reject. Do you ever salvage ideas that didn’t come to fruition at a later stage or do you just move on?
I’m terribly guilty of moving on, hahah. I enjoy the process so much that it’s quite cathartic to be able to produce something beautiful and then set it free into the universe. I feel as though I do my best work if I focus ahead on what I want the body of work to look like, and not too much on what I could have done better.
What have been some personal milestones that you have achieved outside the expectation or perceived expectation of others?
Last year ended up being a very special year for me. It was a bit scary as I began to diversify my creativity and focus not just on my fashion work, but with painting again. I knew that it would be challenging meshing these two worlds together but I was blown away by the support that I received not only from my peers, but also with some of the amazing brands that I’ve had the privilege to partner with. We ended the year with a showcase of a body of still life that I’d been working on, it was a beautiful lunch at Ursula’s in Paddington. I’ve had a long running relationship with the incredible Jaeger-LeCoultre, and the team hosted the event in my honour with a special Q&A with Jillian Davison the editor of Harper's Bazaar. It was truly a pinch me moment, I had no expectations of selling my collection as I was so focused on sharing my journey, but I was very fortunate to sell the entire body of work, my heart was so full and I’m so inspired for 2023.
'Between A Rock And A Hard Place II', fine art by Amanda Shadforth
What are your personal and creative rituals, if any?
Personally I’m a bit of a creature of habit, when I’m home and not travelling a lot I love to spend as much time as I can in the ocean, I really love to surf. I practise yoga and pilates, and love the simplicity of a good conversation over a glass of wine with my besties, which is so grounding when you have such a fast paced work life. On a creative level I’m finding my new studio to be a haven. If I can, I like to get to work early and go over everything I need to achieve for the day. I’m music and podcast obsessed so I’m always listening to something and I love the fragrance of a beautiful candle burning in the background.
Where do you go to find creative refuge?
I would have to say hands down that it would be in the ocean. When I’m surfing there’s nothing else that I think about, it’s just you and Mother Nature, there’s no wifi and you’re at the mercy of the elements, it’s pure heaven. Your mind becomes clear again and then I find I have the space to think of new ideas with fresh energy.
What piece of wisdom currently resonates with you and how does it inform your approach to life right now?
Make your vocation your vacation! If you’re struggling to feel fulfilled or you know that you’re capable of more, there’s nothing better than following your heart and giving it everything that you’ve got. This year for me is especially significant as I’ll be really looking forward to sharing more of my work as an artist, while continuing my work in fashion. I think that with the opportunity to reassess our lives over the last few years that there’s no time like the present to pursue that which fills your cup, you just have to jump right in!