Moving Among our Ancestors

Tales follows the movement among ancestors, between ephemeral time and space, and between relationships in the here and now.

Artist Amber Walker, inspired by her participation in the Arrivals Project, entered her latest show based around the concept of storytelling and exploration.

“Each piece in the show is a part of a story. I’m trying to evoke the sense of movement, a narrative that pulls you in and lets you decide where you want to pursue it,” says Walker.

The pieces are all painted acrylic on small canvases, with rich colours ranging from pastel purple and pink-blossomed trees to dark jewel tones of people and landscapes. Her subject matter is lush, with rounded shapes, fecund natural symbolism, and inherent respect for the life process.

The narrative aspect is evident, particularly within strong family themes. One painting displays a peaceful in-utero scene, another a “sea-section” with a fetus in a shell-like representation.

Family, and the connections carved by families, is an important inspiration to Walker. “I took part in the Arrivals project in June 2009 and November, and the project really took me. I decided to use the work we did, the involved movement, storytelling, the digging into our heritage and culture, and paint it,” says Walker.

Acrylics are an experiment for Walker, who worked first in watercolours, sketches and oils. She adds with a laugh, “oils took too long. I was impatient, I wanted it to dry faster, and see my work quickly,” although her mother recommended her experimentation in oils initially.

Her current show is a collection of 12 pieces, all in acrylics. Although Walker is new to exhibiting, her work has been displayed once before at the café Umbellula on the River, a show titled New Beginnings.

“I’m always trying new things, challenging my skills and pushing boundaries. Art really does allow you to stretch boundaries and see what you can go beyond,” says Walker.

Primarily a self-taught artist, it is the learning experience that Walker relishes. Her lines show a maturity and an experience with the subject matter. She may seldom display her work, but constantly hones her craft and handles commissioned work.

Tales can be summed up in one quote, for Walker: “The big breath before the execution of movement,” a quote used by an Arrivals project practitioner.

What’s next for Walker? She mentions she is always working towards the next project, and with the birth of her son, came a wealth of new ideas. “Family and relationship narratives have always been a strong theme present in my work, and with my son, I’ve been introduced to a new world of ideas,” she says.

Those life experiences shape her work, and the influences from the Arrivals project and her connection to family, movement and art continue to inspire.

Tales is on display at Arts Underground until Sept. 15.

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