Sunday, 4 October 2015

Visiting Fomo Island with Amery Sandford

Amery Sandford is the Don Wright scholar/ artist in residence at the St. Michael's Printshop.  After a gratifying visit to the show I tracked Amery down with some questions.  Her answers are thoughtful and articulate so I just had to share them.

•I was delighted by the tropical flavour of the show - the grass skirt, the pineapples.  It was joyful and yet it flies in the face of the character of a rocky island in the middle of the cold Atlantic Ocean.  Where did that come from?
Through my work I am most interested in cultural spectacle, tourism, and public understanding of Canadian (and in this case Newfoundland) identity. The imagery of the show was inspired by moments and experiences I've had here seeing the juxtaposition of this tropical imagery right here in Newfoundland, whether it be while having a Jungle Juice at Jungle Jim's or seeing a pineapple display in the Quidi Vidi Dominion in the middle of February. I used symbols in the show that read to me as almost universal representations of an "island paradise" to help me and others think about what Newfoundland culture and/or imagery is. 

•Is that where the title comes from?
The title refers to the internet acronym "F.O.M.O" - fear of missing out - that alludes to the anxiety induced by social media of missing a fun event. I thought that it linked nicely to the fact that upon moving here I was surprised that the feeling of geographical isolation was very real. Saying that, the role of technology and the way it informed those feelings definitely impacted how I approached this body of work. Also, I liked that it sounded a bit like Fogo Island, an isolated island off of the coast of another isolated island. 

•I was curious about the palette as well…it seemed very in keeping.  It was a sugar icing, pinacolda palette.  Was that a conscious choice or intuitive? I found myself wondering about how different or similar this work was from what you've created previously.
I've always been drawn to a lighter palette in my prints and drawings. Colour is something that I pay a lot of attention to because I feel like it helps make the work accessible, that the viewer doesn't have to have a BFA to think "hey, I like this gradient of pink to blue" or something.

•I got a kick out of how you fused local content with the tropical aspects - like the Fiesta TP.  Comment please.
I thought the inclusion of local products such as the Fiesta toilet paper or the can of Blue Star was endearing, and again brings me back to questions of what Newfoundland imagery looks like as well as how the culture is represented through tourism. It was nice chuckling with people at the opening about how that they've only seen that brand of toilet paper at Halliday's, or the when they were 16 they would religiously drink eight packs of that beer. The actual aesthetic of the objects I chose to include translate really well through the drawing style and colour palette I use.  

•I was intrigued by the intersection of decorative elements and the content, as in Winky's 6-pack mammaries!  Or the cake on its side view…I thought that was really skillful.  You made a lot of good choices.
Thank you! I often allude to traditional tattoo flash, party, and youth culture when I draw. 

•The references to printmaking also were very clever, for eg. in Wish you were here - the Hiroshige waves.
I think the medium I work with is contextualized nicely when thinking about tourism paraphernalia and traditional printmaking imagery, like postcards or the Hiroshige wave. Specifically in that print, Wish You Were Here (FOMO ISLAND), I drew emojis which have come to be universal symbols for things and feelings in social media. There is even a tiny emoticon of the Hiroshige wave in there which is interesting. I like the idea of these tiny symbols becoming rendered as digital images, and then transposing them back through the drawing hand. 

•Let's close with your self portrait.  Tell me about it.
Self Portrait (George St.) was one of the last prints I did for the show and I feel like it may have not been the most successful image, but it was a good exploration for me. I love pattern drawing and I never really work with the figure, and both are things that I would like to do more of. The colour palette was also an experiment and I enjoyed how the graphic nature reminded me of comic book drawings. In terms of content, this image was drawn from a picture a friend took of me in a bathroom on George Street. I'm a little close up to it at the moment so I'm not sure what the best explanation for why I ended up doing that image, but George St. is a mecca of youth/party culture, excess, and materialism which are all things I take great interest in. 

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