AQUARELLE - a show in seven parts

Amanda Billing standing with Lyra, Eldfell, Jökla, and Thrinu for group show Aquarelle August 2023

Yours Truly on opening night, with all my ladies. Photo: my BF on my shitty old iPhone 8+.

Every artist needs to have an Artist Statement handy. Many artists don't enjoy writing them. Writing my first one a few years ago was like pulling teeth. Now, after writing and re-writing new statements each time I enter a new space with new work (be it an exhibition or a gallery like, I find the process a really interesting, affirming thing.

What am I doing? What am I interested in? What is my work "about"? 

And how much of this do I want to share with everybody?

"Aquarelle" is the word for "watercolour" in French. Our show brought together a community of painters with an interest in  waterborne pigment and white paper. Our styles of work are as different as our ways of talking about it. Some artist's statements were poetic and suggestive, others (like mine) were more direct and explanatory. Many of us met for the first time on opening night.

It's really nice to be able to look at people's work and read their statement afterwards. I didn't get to do that with our show but you can. Scroll on for images of my pieces, including a video showing how Lyra developed and my "artist statement" as at August the 8th (I'm already working on a new one...).

NB: My Aquarelle artwork will be available in my online gallery very soon. Get in touch to inquire directly about any piece, via my Contact Page.

Opening Night of Aquarelle at Browne School August 8th 2023, Amanda Billing, photography by Arts Diary

Opening night of Aquarelle at Browne School Gallery, August 8th 2023. Photo: Arts Diary

Thrinu and Jölski by Amanda Billing, ink on board, 2023. Photo by Arts Diary NZ

'Thrinu' and 'Jökla', both ink and acrylic on board, 2023. Photo: Arts Diary.

Lyra and Eldfell by Amanda Billing. Photography by Arts Diary.

Lyra and Eldfell, featured in my part of the Aquarelle group show. Photo: Arts Diary.

My Artist Statement:
I’m always curious about what materials do and experimentation is the foundation of my practice. I’ve been working with ink for the last eighteen months and really enjoy the way my decision-making and actions are always taken over by the medium. Once the ink dries, I need to assert myself in response to it. I can control it to a degree but I don’t want to control it too much or the “conversation” between us dies. This way of working is always surprising; sometimes it’s delightful but it’s also a pragmatic process. It’s one thing after another. Waiting. Considering. Doing. Stopping. Deciding. And so on.
I’m curious about people, too. I’m an actress and a portrait photographer so this deep interest stretches across my professional life. The female figure has been at the heart of my practice for the last three years. As such, I’m in dialogue with everyone who’s ever painted a naked person. The female nude in particular is a fascinating conversation. In these works for Aquarelle, I like the way transparent chromatic layers accentuate the grace and sensual potential of the female body. The overlapping colour forms both create and distort the body.  There’s a game of hide and seek, and movement too: spaces where my action was “captured” interacting with forms made by the ink slowly settling into itself.
I like to think these interacting layers project something of the kaleidoscopic mystery of being alive: through representation and contemplation of the body (and of womanhood specifically), we observe our own our coming and going, there’s familiarity and ambiguity, we see an individual, and ourselves, and everyone who’s ever lived.


Lyra in Artrooms mockup

My patron community recently funded two subscriptions to artwork mockup/staging apps Smartist and ArtRooms. I'm still working out which one I like best but the image above is what's currently possible. Such helpful tech, seriously. You can help elevate my practice and work via my Patreon community here

View our entire show via the Arts Diary website here.  

Watch a progress video for Lyra on my Instagram page here.

A word on Naming:

Currently, I name all of my work after mythic figures from Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Some pieces are named after specific places where landscapes are alive with volcanic or river activity. I use Victorian "académies" (art model photographs) as a starting point for my paintings. Making the work and then linking each figure with a very old story is interesting and fun for me, especially because so much research is at my fingertips here on the internet. 


Karen Covic, Carol Ferguson, Jo Dalgety, Stephen McKernon, Bigi Cameron, Amanda Billing, Faye Norman. by Arts Diary NZ

Team Aquarelle. Photo: my iPhone. 

Visit the Aquarelle artists online (L-R) here:

Karen Covic

Carol Ferguson

Jo Dalgety

Stephen McKernon

Bigi Cameron

Faye Norman

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published