WORK AND PLAY SERIES : AMY ISLES FREEMAN
ARTIST / PRINT-MAKER / WOOD-TURNER
Amy’s studio is possibly the most idyllic we’ve ever visited. Hidden at the bottom of a farmhouse garden, the long, narrow stone barn looks more like a potting shed than a workshop. But inside, there’s unexpected warmth and space. The white, knobbly walls are a characterful yet clean backdrop to Amy’s collections of succulents, curling plants, brightly painted pots and scraps of doodles. Lined with festoon lights and slightly hazy with wood burner smoke, it’s a dreamy little creative bubble.
While she works, Amy chats, switching between giggles and silliness and moments of quiet thoughtfulness. It’s in her work that she balances these two sides, her vibrant pots don’t shy away from art as decorative and fun, yet there’s still an undercurrent of questioning and character in patterns, forms and her study of different crafts.
She works in that funny place between fine artist and commercial maker, connecting traditional and contemporary disciplines to make beautiful and useful objects, such as woodturning, printmaking and painting. It’s can be a thrilling place to be, exploring what you love and managing to generate an income from it too, yet it can also be a scary place, with instability and risk. To maintain a mental balance, Amy escapes outside, letting go of any panic with a good dose of salt water and sea wind.
WHY DID YOU START CRAFTING THINGS?
When I left art school, I wanted to learn how to make objects of use. I had become itchy to find a skilled three-dimensional aspect to my practice.
WHAT DOES CRAFT MEAN TO YOU?
Independence and identity.
WHY ARE YOU SELF EMPLOYED?
In Cornwall, you don't have much choice. It seems like everyone is down here, so it just becomes normal. It's an exciting version of normal.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST SCARED OF IN YOUR WORK?
I have to keep the fear of ruining a good bit of turning with crappy painting at bay. It’s battle with preciousness.
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED?
Seeing peers making something that has pushed their work to a new level.
WHAT HAS YOUR WORK REVEALED TO YOU ABOUT YOURSELF?
Starting woodturning showed me that I could learn a new skill and it wasn't that scary.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE CHOSE TO LIVE AND WORK IN CORNWALL?
You have the space to get on with what you want to do. You are far enough away from everything down here to understand what you want to do, and how much you want to do it.
HOW DO YOU STAY CONNECTED TO THE OUTDOORS?
My studio is in my friends' back garden. Most of the time it feels like I'm outside.
HOW DOES THE OUTDOORS AFFECT YOU?
Sometimes you just need to go and see some big sea. So much of making, as well as running your own business, relies on good mental wellbeing. When it all gets on top of me, being blown about on a cliff top watching huge waves crashing helps no end.