Amy Isles Freeman is an artist and wood-turner who has been making beautiful objects – and attracting substantial acclaim for doing so – since 2014.
Amy left OHS relatively recently – in 2010 – and finished her studies at Falmouth University in 2014, having concluded that her real passion lay in making things as opposed to drawing them. Amy’s next lightbulb moment came while visiting an exhibition by the artist Dorothy Iannone, whose irreverent humour and vibrant style provided Amy with a way of talking about gender and identity without the aggression she saw in the work of her favourite female artists. As Amy says, ‘I went away from that show thinking about so many things I’d never thought about, all because I laughed! That initiated my current thought process, which is that if I can make stuff that makes people smile and feel welcome, then I can communicate without anger.’
Amy has since gone on to make a splash with her gorgeous hand-painted bowls and other objects, first at the London Design Fair and then under the aegis of major brands including Liberty of London. A very millennial entrepreneur, Amy prefers to sell most of her work via her Instagram page, but she also sells pieces through Birdsong, a fashion website devoted to the ideal of ‘no sweatshops, no Photoshop,’ and has recently received commissions from Charleston House, the spiritual home of The Bloomsbury Group, among others.
“If this is what you want, then do it. Don’t get distracted by other stuff. It’s amazing and bananas being in the studio all day, but the real beauty of it is that every success you have in there is without compromise: it’s all yours.”
Politically engaged and immensely passionate about women’s rights, Amy describes her work as being ‘all about joy and power’ in its evocation of women. She is similarly resolute about the importance of extending arts education to young people irrespective of socio-economic barriers.
Amy visited OHS in February 2018, when she was immensely generous with her time, giving one-to-one tutorials to exam groups from Years 10 to 13 as well as drawing workshops and a talk on her working methods and career. She also had some priceless advice for our aspiring artists on how to negotiate a balance between artistic freedom and mainstream success. When asked if she would recommend a career in the arts to others, Amy replied: ‘Do it! If this is what you want, then don’t get distracted by other stuff. A lot of my friends got jobs and now they’re finding it really hard to get back into the creative life. It’s amazing and bananas being in the studio all day, but the real beauty of it is that every success you have in there is without compromise: it’s all yours.’