No One Can Ever Embargo The Sun (Chapter 1: Light) by Amanda Rice at M8 Space, Aalto university, Helsinki. Photo: Edel O'Reilly
Amanda Rice is a visual artist who works with moving image, photography, and installation. She was awarded the Next Generation Award Bursary in 2019.
Do you have a favourite art work of all time?
I wouldn’t say I have one singular favourite artwork of all time. Anna Zett’s moving image work 'This Unwieldy Object' is one I keep coming back to. Her approach to research is quite playful and I’m amazed and how she weaves quite disparate subjects together.
In this work in particular she makes connections between fossil fuels and dinosaurs, colonialism and science, American culture and artifice in a layered and meaningful way, yet the narrative never feels heavy or contrived. Sometimes a particular grouping
of artworks or an experience have had more staying power in my mind than one singular artwork. A group show curated by Tessa Giblin at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin in 2015 entitled ‘The Riddle of the Burial Grounds’ is one I seem to come back to.
In one of the blacked-out theatre spaces works by Nicholas Mangan, Dorothy Cross and Mariana Castillo Deball were installed to unfold and reveal themselves over the course of about 30 minutes or so. The works spoke of varying measurements of geological
and human time and I felt like I spent hours in that one space taking in the various changes which the works engendered. Also, one of my earliest encounters with artist’s moving image was experiencing Willie Doherty’s 2007 Venice Biennale exhibition
during my undergraduate. That was a really formative experience.
What is your daily routine as an artist?
First and foremost, coffee begins my routine. Usually I spend the morning doing some admin like catching up with emails. I think my routine is largely dictated by what deadlines are looming. I had a quite an unhealthy work pattern last winter; I had several
important deadlines and found myself working 13 and 14 hour days just to get through them. Normally I try to keep 9am to 6pm hours when not in deadline mode. I mostly work in moving image, so prior to filming I tend to spend time researching, writing
and reading. I’m inquisitive about materials, so time can be spent experimenting with various sculptural processes, which sometimes find their way into the moving image works themselves. During the day, I try to fit in some exercise, usually a run,
but that tends to go to the wall a bit when working on a big deadline however.
What would you say is the biggest challenge as an artist?
One of the biggest challenges for me personally as an artist is managing work life balance and finding the time and space to really focus on making work. There have been times where the pressures of working multiple non-art related jobs in order to live
has really clouded by ability to be both objective about the work I was making or enjoy the practice of making work. Certainly, this year’s support from the Arts Council of Ireland has alleviated this kind of pressure which I’m grateful for. I think
access to affordable, yet secure studio spaces in larger cities is a major challenge. Certainly, in Dublin there seems to be an exponential loss of cultural spaces as a result of neoliberal practices of redevelopment which not only creates competition
for fewer studio spaces but makes it really difficult for artists to develop a consistent and affordable practice. I’m based in London at the moment, and whilst I think there are more studio spaces available here, these too exist under the same set
of precarious conditions. Studios with longer term leases are often really unaffordable. I worry about this increasing neoliberalization of the city and what it will mean for marginalized and working class practitioners.
Who has been of great influence to you in your field?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great artists and curators throughout the years, who have supported me and my work. I was lucky enough to be mentored by artist’s Alice Maher and Aideen Barry quite early in my career as part of a project called
FIND initiated by Gaynor Seville (Public Art Manager at Mayo County Council). I found working on this project a very formative experience and the relationships which developed between myself, the other participating artists and the mentors themselves
played out beyond the project deadline. For the few years that I was based in Mayo, that reciprocal network was so important, supportive and influential. My peers have and continue to be an important influence, particularly my MA group. I’ve been
lucky to have some strong academic influences in my life in particular Dr. Joy Sleeman who was my MA thesis supervisor and Dr. Susan Williams, who I had the honour of working for this past year. Both of these individuals have really supported, pushed
and encouraged my research.
What is the best piece of advice you would give an emerging artist?
As I only finished my MA in 2018 I still feel like an emerging artist myself. Try not to compare yourself to others, be consistent, believe in yourself and stay curious.
What has the Next Generation Artist Award support from the Arts Council meant to your practice?
The Next Generation Award came at an important time for me. I had just finished my MA and really needed the time and space to process everything that came out of that experience. The MA generated so much new research; the award allowed me to really focus
on the knowledge generated from that time and push my research and take risks in the studio. It allowed me the time and space to begin some exciting new research with dancers. Never before have I had a budget to take risks of this nature. I was so
grateful for the award as it gave my practice more visibility and acknowledged years of hard work.
Tell us about what you did/ your project?
My project changed a lot over the course of 2020, as you can imagine. I had self-initiated a research partnership with the photovoltaics laboratory at Loughborough University where I was due to look at the material properties of solar energy systems.
The plan was to film on site there and look at the material properties of photovoltaic technologies. This work began in January 2020 but could no longer continue due to the outbreak of Covid-19. This was quite an obstacle, and I found I spent much
of 2020, as did everyone else, grappling with the reality of the pandemic. My filmmaking practice is generally quite site responsive and the work often relies on working with people, groups and gaining access to spaces or facilities, obviously none
of this could happen throughout 2020. I had an upcoming solo show in Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, so I had to adapt my practice to produce the work. I ended up working mostly with found footage and some studio based filming. The work took
the form of a three part research essay where I was trying to think about mineral extraction in relation to solar technologies and sunlight as a global energy resource. I was thinking a lot about Anna Zett’s work, as mentioned previously, and how
she weaves quite disparate subjects together, so in this respect I was thinking about the mineral silver and its connections to capital, coinage, sunlight and solar energy.
What are you doing next? Would you be seeking funding in the future?
I’m currently doing some movement research with London based choreographer and dancer Richard Pye. This research will form part of a moving image work which looks at an aspect of Irelands palaeontological history and what it might mean to embody an extinct
animal through movement. I’ve never worked with dancers before, and it’s been a really exciting so far. I have absolutely no formal dance experience, but I’ve been amazed at what I have learned through testing the limits of my own body in the context
of this research. It’s been really great to bounce ideas off Richard in this way. I will be seeking funding in the future to push this work further.