Amy Worrall playfully approaches the female gaze and ideas of pop culture, music, and coming-of-age in her works, which nod to the influence of pop stars like Britney Spears or the Spice Girls, as she was growing up. Working in the medium of ceramics, she can combine a background in illustration with a freeform medium that can test ideas of scale and space.
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m Amy Worrall, I’m currently based in Stockholm, Sweden but I’m originally from Norwich in the UK. I just finished studying my Masters in Craft! at Konstfack (in Stockholm) this Spring. My background is in illustration but increasingly became interested in working with 3D materials so made the transition to ceramic. I consider myself a sculptor at heart with a graphic eye!
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I can’t remember when, it’s always been what I loved and wanted to do. I think a lot of it is due to the fact that my parents took me on so many holidays to Disneyland so when I was super little I wanted to be a Disney animator. As I got older I became more interested in Disneyland itself and the weirdness of it all, things like the forced perspective used to make things seem bigger and you feel smaller. It’s still a really big influence now, I see the parks as giant art installations I suppose. To be able to create a living, breathing world that suspends reality is something I strive for in my own practice.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
My work has for the most part been centered around female empowerment and more recently I’ve been addressing the idea of the female gaze vs the male gaze and how I as a individual look at other women. The male gaze is so well defined and widely understood but the concept of the female gaze is still in its infancy, that excites me, that I can bend, shape and define it for myself. The catalyst for this project is my love of pop culture and how being bombarded with a constant stream of images, films, songs almost always created in the male gaze has shaped my female gaze. I’ve traced my own personal history with pop culture – the Spice Girls and Britney Spears being huge figures in my childhood – to create my own world of ceramic characters filled with my magpie like collection of references collected over my 28 years on this planet! There are so many things we are told we should or shouldn’t like in order to be a ‘good’ feminist, that I kind of wanted to break free and celebrate the good and the sometimes bad that has shaped my world and my practice, the book Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay really supported me and helped me to proudly tell everyone ‘I love Britney’.
What is your process like?
My process is actually really structured even when the making is pretty free. I always always start with drawing, my sketchbook is the most important thing to me. So everything I make begins life on those pages as a simple line drawing. From there I move to clay, I can work on up to 4 sculptures at a time, I’m working in quite large scale at the moment (each piece is around 60cm tall, some much bigger) so they can take anywhere from a day to a week to finish sculpting. I hand build everything by coiling the clay, then bisque fire, then glaze all in one colour, then the final firing. Once they are cool I then add the colour using enamel paint so I can get really really high gloss vibrant hues.
In terms of making and my own practice I’m really interested in the human form and different ways of portraying it both 2D and 3D and how these can feed into and inform each other.
What is your studio like?
As I’ve just finished school my studio is a mess, we just moved in last week so there are boxes half unpacked everywhere. It’s in an old porcelain factory on the outskirts of Stockholm in a massive artists studio complex. I jumped into ceramics because I loved the material so to be working in an environment that is so historically important to the craft gives me the opportunity to really dive into the timeline of ceramics. I’m really excited to be part of this community, there are also so so many people there from Konstfack so it feels a bit like a half way house between school and the real world!
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
My biggest fear is that people just won’t care about what I’m doing but it’s also comforting to know that is also every other artists greatest fear too no matter what stage of their career they are in. I think the most challenging part is being so self-driven and really having to never lose self-belief.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
Manic, Lumpy, Colourful.
What are you working on right now?
I’m continuing with my female gaze exploration as I feel as though I’ve only just scratched the surface of the project. But my plan is to turn my gaze towards men and start making male caricatures, I feel safe making women so I will be out of my comfort zone with, I hope, exciting and interesting results.
I’m also working on curating an exhibition in Stockholm, this city has such a strong, inspiring creative output that I wanted to work with the incredible artists around me, I’m really passionate about this way of collaborating with others.