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The First Nations artist celebrates her heritage through intricate and unique paintings.

| By Rachael Thompson | Home tours

Inside Wiradjuri Artist Amanda Hinkelmann's Home and Studio in Wagga Wagga

The First Nations artist celebrates her heritage through intricate and unique paintings.

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we celebrate innovators, artisans, and crafters of all types by taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we tour the welcoming home and studio of Wiradjuri artist Amanda Hinkelmann in Wagga Wagga.

First Nations art is deeply meaningful, celebrating Indigenous Australian people's strong spiritual connection to family, community, and Country. For contemporary Indigenous Australian artist Amanda Hinkelmann, creating art allows her to pay homage to her Wiradjuri heritage. "I work respectfully to promote my culture, telling stories through my art," she shares with Bed Threads Journal. "My hope is that each day more and more people see how beautiful and deep our culture is, so we can move forward together as a nation.”

After completing a primary education degree at university, Amanda taught as a school teacher for 14 years before spending another year working as a school principal. In 2019 she decided to dedicate her time to pursuing art as a full-time career. "I love creating every day and find that when I allow myself time to be creative I am completely myself," she says.

Each of her special artworks embraces a dot painting style and incorporates up to 10 layers of acrylic paint. Stamped in vivid colors and intricate patterns, these contemporary works offer a unique and meaningful display in a home and are well-suited for a wide range of interior design styles. Many of her artworks hang on the walls of her home in Wagga Wagga, a regional city in New South Wales, four hours south-west of Sydney. They bring life, history, and beauty to the abode.

This home which she shares with her husband and children also houses her art studio which was created by converting the second living room. "I have completely ruined the space with paint, but I must admit, it is definitely my happy place and you’ll find me there every day!" she says.

The décor choices in the home have been carefully selected to reflect her artworks. This is perhaps most successfully achieved in the primary bedroom where warm tones of Terracotta, Peach, and Rosewater beautifully match the the aerial landscape painting that hangs above the bed.

We spoke to Amanda about how painting relates to who she is, her creative process, and the significance of art in celebrating her culture.

Shop Amanda Hinkelmann's home edit.

Hi Amanda! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?

I am a proud Wiradjuri woman from Wagga Wagga and create contemporary Aboriginal art – textural, feminine and modern – using both traditional iconography mixed with unique symbolism. I work mostly with acrylic on canvas and love large-scale works. I also create murals and digital works.

How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?

I have always been creative and throughout my life have found the art of ‘making’ balanced me and allowed for my unique expression. From a little girl who spent Saturdays in the shed building timber furniture with my dad, to a teenager who danced and drew, I am now using my creativity to tell my stories and share my experiences. I love creating every day and find that when I allow myself time to be creative I am completely myself.

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?

After leaving high school, I went straight into university and completed a Bachelor of Primary Education. From there, I graduated and started teaching, while becoming a new mother. I taught for 14 years, with eight of those being in an executive position. I spent a year as a school principal and shortly after, I took time away to pursue art full-time. I have been painting since 2019 and found I was far more complete when I painted. I took the time away from education to give my family the time they had missed out on with me and to do what I loved every day.

Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?

I usually have an idea for a work and I think about the execution before beginning. I get most of my canvases pre-framed so it always starts with marking and unscrewing the frame from the canvas. I then use a texture paste and a few layers of flat acrylic before laying down the first colours that will form the main base. After this, it is pattern work and detail, and then a few days to weeks' worth of dotting, depending on the size of the piece. After this, it’s a few days of looking at it as I paint other pieces to check that I’m happy with it, then a varnish and she’s put back into her frame. Most of my works end up with around 9-10 layers, and it isn’t until you’re up close that this is really seen!

Occasionally I paint intuitively and will work on canvas, paper or card just to get colour down and my creative energy out! It is times like this when new ideas come and slight adjustments to my style are made.

What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your career?

A few things – the first being that I can’t say ‘yes’ to everything. I am a chronic over-committer and will burn myself out trying to please everyone. I have had to learn to say no. The great part about this is it now enables me to work only with businesses and people that align with my values, and I feel far more accomplished knowing that my work is meaningful and appreciated.

The second would be that we have a long way to go towards reconciliation and acknowledgement. I am so proud of my heritage and sometimes forget that not everyone is as educated on issues around mob, or accepting of my people.

...we have a long way to go towards reconciliation and acknowledgement.

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?

I have allowed myself freedom! I spent the first six months of full-time art really questioning my life, my decisions, and the people I had around me. The best thing about this is that I have allowed myself to be truly happy. I plan my days around my kids and my art, and I have allowed a work/life balance that I have always lacked.

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?

I always tell my kids to figure out what makes them truly happy, and make that their job! If you love what you do, then it isn’t work!

Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?

We have lived here for three and a half years, moving in three days before Christmas… and yes, the tree went up!

How did you initially know this was the space for you?

My husband and I were looking for a large block of land that was still in town. There were three in a new street, and we were lucky enough to score one. We wanted a large yard that would allow us to have all of the things we loved. We’ve had chickens and birds and veggie gardens, swing sets and trampolines. Our house has grown with our family and it continues to change as we need.

Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?

We moved in when our house was new, working with the builder to adjust the floor plan and interior finishings. We have changed the flooring in the living spaces for easier cleaning, but besides that, we haven’t adjusted much. We have not long ago put a pool in and are in the process of landscaping our backyard. My husband is hoping for a tropical paradise in the middle of Wagga!

What are your favorite pieces in the home?

We have a beautiful custom-made desk that was made for us using a slice of spotted gum that we brought back from a family holiday – this would have to be my favorite thing. I also love the tiles in our bathrooms – they are the most beautiful Moroccan design. Besides these things, it’s my art table and all of my ceramics. I love handmade, unique ceramics, especially a good coffee cup!

Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?

I have two exhibitions this year – one with Jumbled in Orange and one with Uralla Gallery. These are always lots of preparation, but well worth it and very fulfilling. I will also open my commissions up in October, and this is an exciting time for those wanting a bespoke artwork. Besides this, I have two collaborations coming up that I am busting to share with you, but that’ll have to wait until down the track!

For more from Amanda follow her @becauseofmyfour

Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jackie Brown.

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