JANELLE AMOS, SELF POLLINATE
Something we hear over and over from people mesmerised by Janelle Amos’ beautiful mandala works currently on exhibition with us, is how the patterns appear so perfect, how clear the lighting is, and that ‘surely there’s some photoshopping involved?’. Well it turns out it’s almost as low tech as possible with a camera, barefoot, outside in the natural light.
In that spirit, Janelle is generously hosting a free mandala making afternoon on Saturday 9 December 2-3.30pm, in our upstairs gallery space. using succulents and flowers. The event is an opportunity to spend a casual creative afternoon and contribute to a mandala in progress with Janelle, make your own, or simply experience the exhibition with an insight into the creative process. No booking needed and no charge, we look forward to seeing you on the day.
Read on for a fascinating Q&A with Janelle Amos of Self Pollinate, about her work and her current exhibition ‘Perfectly Imperfect’.
Q: At what point in your life was ‘Self Pollinate’ born, and what were you doing/involved with beforehand?
“Self Pollinate” was born from my experience of Motherhood, what I now know as a beautiful opportunity to be broken open. With roots of play and curiosity, the practice of mandala making became a way to mediate and find calm amongst the perceived chaos of life with 2 under 2 and running a successful business from home. The intensity of the experience taught me that my creativity is my own pilot light, and that what I need at any given time I must give to myself, rather than expect it from another. When I started to share my work the practice deepened, and through my personal creative expression I began to piece myself back together into an evolved, and much happier version of myself; engaging my creativity brought me back, to life.
My husband and I met many years ago in the Corporate Event Industry, working together as Event Stylist and Technician, so our experience working together translates well into working together on our own coffee roasting business that we started together on our vineyard property 7 years ago. When moving back to the Barossa we both merged into new areas of interest, Paul into HR and me into a little bit of floristry and cellar door work until our children came along and we decided to start a business on the side from our common passion, enabling me to work from home while being around for our girls, and enabling Paul to continue his HR career and pursue roasting at night. The structure and flow of the business was stable by the time my creativity started to bubble to the surface, and timed beautifully with our girls starting to stretch their wings at school; I naturally began to stretch my own. After a dream one night that delivered the name “Self Pollinate”, as in, “you can’t give from an empty cup”, I was compelled by the lift of energy and insight that engaging in play and creativity with nature gave me, and although we ate more than our share of scrambled eggs for dinner that year, it was the turning point of empowerment for me.
Looking back through things i learnt in my past career and work, it’s very clear nothing is ever wasted. Every skill picked up along the way adds to a unique personal offering.
Q. What does an ‘average/regular’ day look like for for you/your creative routine?
To be honest I’m not sure if i could say i have a routine right now, other than school drop off, school pick up and the weekly flow of our family coffee roasting business which is just shy of a full time commitment; I suspect if these parts of my life weren’t there to put in some resemblance of a routine i might struggle to enforce a routine by myself. My creative practice fits in and around every spare nook and cranny and I stay up far later than I’d like to admit. However I’ve learnt that things are forever evolving so I know the season will come to bring greater routine to the creative part of my life. With our girls so young, i’m embracing the flexibility and going with the flow of print orders, exhibitions, creative bursts and lots of self care when the inevitable creative wobbles come about.
Q. Which part of the process do you enjoy the most?
The moments after the creative struggle when the resonance hits. It’s a rainbow after the storm kind of thing.
Q. Which part of the creative process challenges you the most?
Q. What’s the most common misconception about what you do?
Many people ask if I use a grid to get the symmetry in the design. I don’t use a grid, in fact I never have a plan or outcome in mind, it’s really the materials that guide how the piece comes together, and essentially I just instinctively play around until a resonance is reached. It’s a very healthy process of ‘letting go of control’!
When the piece feels done I’ll often use a leaf or twig as a ‘measuring stick’ to check for even placement, but most of the time i can sense if something is ‘out’ in the piece, in which case I’ll take a quick iphone snap and use the perspective of the image to guide any adjustments before taking the photo. By this time I’ve been at it for a couple of hours and potentially the wind is picking up, so at this point it really becomes more of a sensing than a seeing thing, and getting on with capturing the piece before it is blown away.
Q. Any advice that someone’s given you (that’s stuck) or that you’d give someone starting a creative career/giving something new a go?
My advice if you are considering a creative career or giving something new a go, is a quote I read somewhere (and have absolutely no idea who to credit for it unfortunately) “If you’re not slightly embarrassed by your first attempt then you’ve started too late”. I’ve learnt that the doing is the learning and becomes the ‘ready’, and I always try to remember that it’s not a race.
Also hold your creativity sacred and when you get inevitably ‘stuck’, stay off Instagram and load up with creative podcasts; rather than absorbing others creative work, absorb their creative story. This way you can glean the gold without poking the comparison bear!
Janelle’s current exhibition ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ runs until end of December 2017.