Amanda Watt’s Journey


Opus Art sits down with Amanda Watt to find out more about her journey through the years

"My journey over the last 40 years from Belfast to California and back again has been a wild ride to say the least. Back when l threw my degree show up in York St Belfast, "The troubles" were blazing. The next week "exit stage left " and l escaped to London in a VW Bug with two English boys and the son of a Scottish evangelist to make my way as an artist. London was very tough in the beginning but l buckled down embarking on what would be the first of many part time jobs and started to paint when and where l could. I had fierce goals and l clung to them. Two years later through a series of chance encounters l was introduced to Barry Levinson an American writer/director. He was shooting the movie " Young Sherlock Holmes" in London and would later go on to make the iconic " Rain man" which he received an academy award for. Barry visited my studio in a dilapidated council tear down on the Finchley road one afternoon and after purchasing more paintings than I'd ever sold he said " I would love to see what would happen to Amanda's colours if she came to California". A year later l made the transatlantic journey to LA and so began my American dream.

"Inclusion" (2020), Acrylic on Canvas, 77 x 57 cm (30" x 22")

In California l worked through different styles wildly experimenting with colour and space. Bright was beautiful. Things started to happen very fast, in retrospect " way too fast". Opportunities came my way and l started to get a taste of success. My art school dreams were realised in a sellout show in Soho NY in the middle of a blizzard. But something also died that night. My career was going in one direction but my personal life never seemed to be alignment. I remember thinking out loud later that evening as l gazed at the magnificent Chrysler building in all its glory, "God this isn't the way it was meant to be". Recently l listened to an interview with Paul Weller where he talked about his early successes and how he was in too much pain to enjoy them, l truly identified.

"Pomegranate" (2020), Acrylic on canvas, 63 x 76 cm (25" x  30")

For the next couple of decades l worked relentlessly too uneasy with success to ever risk a break. Somewhere along the way l crossed over that invisible line and got sucked into the whole consuming commodity monster that is the fickle Art world. Finally, when I needed the creative acceptance of my pushers the most (but saw worried sales faces instead) l became disenchanted with the entire business. It was time for a spiritual overhaul, l was completely burnt out. l needed to get back to creating free of confines, pushing the envelope and enjoying the creative process again as l had in the beginning.

"The Scarlet Woman" (2018), Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 45 cm (24" x 18")

So it was a bitter sweet good bye to the "Wild West" and back across the pond again to reinvent myself. Naturally the transplant was not without growing pains (hell I'd been MIA for 30 years) and in the beginning there is never any guarantee that the adoring audience will translate into a new zip code. Relocating to the Irish country side where l set up studio and has been such a healing experience. All those years as an accidental tourist in America l had dreamed of such a thing.  Not long after my return to Ireland once again l felt the familiar call of London, rightfully so l was curious to see how this city would now respond to my work with its Californian stamp. Happy also that in my absence David Hockney had paved the way and was now a national treasure. Had London moved on from those "muddy colours" so prevalent back in the day? Yes, it had. Much to my delight the colours of impressionism and America's boldness had visibly taken hold while l was gone. How she has reinvented herself, I'm so happy to be back and already making my presence known. London town a city that never disappoints, get ready."

- Amanda Watt

View more pieces at: https://www.opus-art.co.uk/amanda-watt and on instagram: @amanda_watt_art

"Tudor Queen" (2021), Acrylic on Canvas, 25.5 x 20 cm (10" x 8")

Send enquiries to: Nicole Barbezat through email: nicole@opus-art.co.uk or phone: +44 (0) 7423 326 830

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