Friday 25 February 2011

Introducing... Amanda Dziedzic!

This week meet one of our newest stockists - glass artist Amanda Dziedzic!

Based in Adelaide, Amanda completed her Fine Arts degree majoring in glass at Monash and a Visual Arts degree at the University of South Australia before joining the prestigious JamFactory in Adelaide as a glass associate [read more about the associate program here].

After a few whirlwind years of success, Amanda is now being mentored by respected glass sculptor Ruth Allen. The duo have already produced large-scale glass installations for Adelaide Fringe and independent performance space Tuxedo Cat.

We're really excited to be sharing Amanda's work with you virtually and physically (in the shop we mean!), so we hope you enjoy this interview and studio visit as much as we have!

After completing a Visual Arts degree at Uni SA in Adelaide and a Fine Arts degree at Monash, how did you make the leap into your next role at the JamFactory as a glass associate? It must’ve been the opportunity of a lifetime!

I am going to let you in on a secret here... I didn’t really think i was going to get in! I applied just in the hopes of maybe getting in for an interview and submitted my application pretty much just for the experience of the application process!! Man am I glad I did! I feel extremely blessed to have been given the opportunity to become a JamFactory associate. Being an associate was probably the most challenging and hardest two years of my life to date but there is no doubt in my mind it was worth every tear, burn, heartache and exhaustion I went through.

As a glass associate, we worked 6 day weeks, starting at 7am and sometimes working past 9pm. (How's that for a implemented work ethic?) Throughout this time we worked on large scale commissions, developed our own design aesthetic and of course technical skill, and had unlimited access to the glass. We were also given the opportunity to participate in workshops hosted by international artists such as Dante Marioni and Katherine Gray.

There is no way possible I would have the skill level and confidence I do now without becoming an associate. The JamFactory is a unique opportunity for artists which offers them support, skills and a network to succeed.

2009 and 2010 were such big, successful years for you – being a finalist at SOYA (Quantas Spirit of Youth Award), receiving an ArtStart grant and exhibiting your first solo show 'The Glass Garden' at the JamFactory – what skills/approaches/attitudes did you find to be invaluable during this period?

Applying for competitions, awards, residencies and grants and extremely valuable avenues for your practice to flourish. There are endless opportunities if you just know how to sniff them out. (Makes me sound like part artist, part Sherlock Holmes...)

Being a finalist in SOYA was such a nice little boost. To be listed in the top 10, Australia-wide is something I am very proud of. Receiving an ArtStart grant for an emerging artist such as myself, is nothing short of amazing. The lovely folks at Australia Council, granted me $10,000 to assist me with the start up of my practice, as a glass artist. Amazing, no?

With this financial boost I was able to do things previously out of my financial reach. I was able to purchase a laptop, new blowing pipes, attend an international artists workshop, rent studio space, have professional photographs taken of my work and perhaps most importantly create new works for my first solo show.

Having the extra funds allowed me the freedom to create the show I wanted for my first solo. I was able to experiment to create in a very expensive media. This financial freedom was undoubtably an invaluable aspect to a successful show. Even though I had the funding to create, I made it my goal to be super organized for this show. I think I actually started work on it 8 months in advance...! Call me crazy, but I think it really did help.

At times it was hard to see the light at the end but having that time allowed me to research, experiment, prototype and resolve the show. I also had a fantastic support circle around me in both family and friends. They all banded together around me to see the show come to fruition. Now I really must give a shout out to my partner Brendan, things get stressful real fast, and I am one of those people who likes to do a million things at once and have to work sometimes four jobs to survive. Inevitably the pieces need to come crashing down at some point, and he is always there to pick them back up again and always does his best to soothe the savage beast when she is raging (usually with chocolate).

Your upcoming mentorship with Ruth Allen as part of Jump is very exciting! What are you looking forward to, and for our readers who might not know what a mentorship involves, could you please explain what it entails?

I am super excited about Jump! I am already living it and it is awesome!! We have already (we got excited and jumped the gun a little...) created a major work for this year's Adelaide Fringe: a huge glass mobile/chandelier which is hanging at Electra House for Tuxedo Cat. You can check out the whole process from start to finish on my blog.

So for me, having finished my traineeship at the Jam a year ago, and being out on my own, a Jump mentorship is a way for me to tighten up and stay on track. Ruth Allen is a Melbourne-based glass artist who specialises in large scale installations. She is in the process of starting up her own studio and is a wealth of knowledge for a newbie such as myself! Ruth has amazing technical skill, a savy business woman and is overall a fantastic artist. She is so willing to share knowledge and shoot ideas off of, I am looking forward immensely to the year in front of us.

For those of you not familiar with Jump, you choose a suitable mentor and if chosen from your application, you will receive not only an amazing support network for your practice, a mentor to guide you, but financial assistance to achieve a project of your choice. For me this will be creating installation type works which focus on Ikebana (Japanese floristry) but with an adaptation for Australian natives. I can’t sing Jump’s praises enough, if you are an emerging artist under 30 (just scraped in there) I strongly advise you to have a look and think about applying.

What’s the most satisfying part of your practice?

I get great satisfaction from my practice. Working with glass is such a rewarding medium. Seeing your piece the next day, fresh out of the annealer and probably still warm, and going, "hey this kid’s alright!" is always a buzz for me.

I also get great satisfaction from a stranger purchasing a piece. I still get excited that someone liked the work enough to part with their hard earned dollars to want to have it in their home with them. It's pretty special when you think about it. I also get a kick out of helping other artists out to realise their dreams too, whether that be assisting in the making or just being around to shoot the breeze or dream about which grants to apply for...

...and the least satisfying part?

Hmmm, least satisfying... I’m gonna go with the sheer filth associated with being a glass blower. It's hot, super sweaty, grimy, what with all the ash flying around, and let's not forget my constant perfume of 'chimney stack'. It's hard work, not for the faint hearted to say the least!

Where do you go for inspiration?

Inspiration comes in many forms for me. I am particularly keen on all things green at the moment, cacti and succulents are my favourite, even our little veggie patch is a treasure trove of ideas! The patterns found in nature are the most beautiful things you will ever see.

I love to get out and see as many exhibitions as possible. I quite like the low-brow, fringy kinda stuff, pop-up shows and that kind of thing. I am a bit of a blog obsessed gal at the moment, some favs include: Beci Orpin, Handmade Love, Hello Sandwich and Dark Cloud Blue Sky. I just love seeing what other people do in their everyday life!

My other half is quite the music buff so I get to reap all the benefits a vinyl demon has to offer. I must say, my main source of inspiration comes from friends. Sitting in backyards (or beer gardens...) some of the best artistic plans are hatched! Having like-minded individuals to bounce ideas off of is invaluable. Global domination through art. Flip yea!

What is one thing that you’d really like to make, but haven’t yet?

I am yet to construct a big, large-scale installation... which just happens to be my next project!

This year will see me travel to Japan for a research residency into the honoured tradition of Ikebana, Japanese floristry. My sister is a florist and we will be traveling together to study, then design vessels for Ikebana, with Australian natives in mind.

I will be having a show in August for SALA (South Australian Living Artists, 5-28 August 2011) week with Chill Florist to consolidate these ideas. Here we will work together to create an installation for their window. I am super excited at the possibilities! At the moment I am interested in creating an installation where the vessels are totally hidden by the foliage, then as time passes and we strip back, the vessels start to appear. The last day of the exhibition should be just the vessels. Oh, and I would love to have time lapse photography happening throughout, but a girl can dream right?!

[CLOG: OMG Amanda that sounds amazing!! Can someone help Amanda out please?! We'd love to see documentation of this!]

What was your first (and possibly worst?) job?

Ugh, my first and worst job would have to be working in a delicatessen section of a major supermarket, down south, growing up when I was around 17... who knew working with deli meats could be so horrible!

Maybe it was the company, or maybe it was their less-than-sanitary food handling, or perhaps it was that my dream was not their's ( to work in the deli, have kids and go on the dole). Hard to say really. Let's just say there was no bouncing ideas off each other in that place. I’m pretty sure they didn’t like me as much as I them, no love lost there.

If you could master a new skill/technique in a blink of an eye, what would it be?

If I could master a new skill in the blink of an eye it would be the volume control on my laugh after 4 ciders... I’m sure others would appreciate this too. You know what, while we are at it, I would abolish all sneezing too. It’s really grinding my gears at the moment. Sneezing is something I could definitely do without.

And finally, tell us a bit about the work that you’ve sent to us for the shop!

I have sent my brand spanking new range; 'Colour Pots' to Craft Victoria and wish them well on their maiden voyage! Colour Pots are beautiful, bright, highly functional vases.

Designed in cahoots with my sister, a florist, I asked what the most practical size for a vase. Voila! Colour Pots are born. Available in a range of delectable colours, Colour Pots are to be enjoyed by all. Fantastic as a stand alone piece or lovely in a grouping. Colour Pots for all!

Amanda's Colour Pots are now available at our shop and we have them in all of the colours pictured above. Priced at $135 each, it's truly **COLOUR POTS FOR ALL!!!**

And don't forget to check out Amanda's blog for more glass-blown, moustachio-ed goodness!

All images courtesy of Amanda Dziedzic

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