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Artist Interview: Amy Tomlinson


Amy Tomlinson is a Blackpool based artist of whom was involved in Elmer's Big Parade Blackpool with her creation 'The clown'! Amy has recently graduated from Huddersfield University with a degree in Contemporary Art and Illustration, which spurred on a recent focus on sculptural paintings with her degree project 'Miniature painting series'. Amy also creates animal and wildlife portraiture within her practice!  

We had the pleasure of asking a few questions, discovering the process behind her Elmer and art career thus far!

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Amy and 'The Clown' ©Amy Tomlinson

'Their extreme enthusiasm and passion for making people laugh is what led me to design "The Clown", as I wanted to give my Elmer character and a tone of personality.'

Amy Tomlinson

'The genesis of the series stemmed mostly from my curiosity with colour, specifically its deep influence on human emotion, perception of depth, and the ease with which we can associate colour with forms and objects.'

Amy Tomlinson

Q: First of all, congratulations on creating and being a part of the big art community project with the Elmers! We have loved seeing the art trail come to life in our hometown! How did you come up with the ideation and muse for your blank canvas?


Being someone who is Blackpool born and bred, a lot of the inspiration for my design came from the town's wide range of attractions and famous landmarks. The Blackpool tower circus in particular mostly inspired the creation of my Elmer design, as back in the 1960’s, the circus elephants were often taken for long leisurely strolls along Blackpool's sandy beaches. Clowns are hypothetical entertainers that mimic everyday circumstances or traits that are heightened by their comical appearance. They are distinguished by their crazy flamboyant wigs, red noses and ridiculous outfits. Their extreme enthusiasm and passion for making people laugh is what led me to design "The Clown", as I wanted to give my Elmer character and a tone of personality.


©Amy Tomlinson

Q: Could you tell us about your art background so far?


From as long as I can remember, art has played a crucial role in my life. I've never really gone a day without holding a pencil or paintbrush and creating something, even if that just means doodling.

My creative practice greatly specialises in wildlife and animal portraiture, but I have remained open minded to many other projects. My “Miniature” sculptural paintings series (which is very different to my animal work), is one of the most recent major projects I have worked on as part of my studies at the University of Huddersfield, to which I graduated with a first class bachelor of honors degree last year. The series focuses on the deep complexity of visual imagery and reality, including how the human brain plays tricks with our eyes and how we choose to associate colour with shapes. The series also pays a lot of attention to the hidden regularity of geometric shapes in everyday objects and life, the removal of shapes' inherent simplicity and the fusion of their forms with the most complicated ones. The genesis of the series stemmed mostly from my curiosity with colour, specifically its deep influence on human emotion, perception of depth, and the ease with which we can associate colour with forms and objects. Both of my artistic practices are extremely different but have allowed me the freedom to explore subjects I admire in various ways. I believe that having such unrestricted access to my workspace has helped me think of new ideas for projects as well as processes, and I want to keep doing this in the future.

Since being back at home, I have continued to focus on my animal portraits as well as working on some ideas for future wood sculptures, but most recently, I have had the pleasure to become one of 30 artists for Elmer’s big parade in Blackpool to where I have not long ago created my very own Clown Elmer.

Q: Due to your main graduate project being sculptural paintings, have you always been interested in mural art within your practice?


Although mural painting has always caught my attention, I hadn't given it any thought until my last year of university before incorporating it into any of my own works. Murals frequently remind me of street art or incredibly vibrant and contemporary interior decor, however I didn't approach my work this way and instead made reference to them based on their larger scale and their ability to stand out amongst the crowd. My goal was to make something that is so striking that the eye cannot look away, and thanks to particular aspects of mural art I was able to achieve elements of this in my project.


“Miniature” sculptural paintings series  ©Amy Tomlinson

Q: What was the biggest challenge of working at such a large scale within your degree project?


Originally I had no intention of working on such a large scale. I was more preoccupied with my shapes and the quantity I was producing. I would have to decide later on how I was going to organise them. I would say that once I made the decision to exhibit my work on a flat surface, the most difficult part was organising and positioning each of them, as I had 180 individual paintings to fit on a 2 x5 meter wall. Each shape was 7 x 9cm. It was tricky to figure out by hand how to make sure each painting had exact measurements from the outer edges of the wall and also from each other, so I had to make a digital version of the wall beforehand. Arranging my paintings according to hue was also a small challenge because I had so many of them! But I had the wonderful chance to use digital technology to modify the online version of my display and this had a big effect on the result since I could produce accurate and multiple measurements. By working with laser beams, I was able to create temporary grids across the wall which allowed me to keep each strip of shapes perfectly aligned with each other.

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©Amy Tomlinson

Q: Which materials aided your mural and would you do anything differently or change your process if you were to do it again?


Each of my sculptural paintings were created with medium-density fiberboard via laser cutting technologies. Because these machines were connected to computer software that contained programmes specifically designed for printing shapes, I was able to use them to cut out as many designs as I desired at any measurement. I was also able to save each document for later use, thus it was well worth the effort to work in this manner as I could not have completed the task with my bare hands, especially given the small sizes. This was a huge time-saver because I could keep each document for subsequent use, eliminating the need for me to repeat taking the measurements before sending them off to be cut out. To paint my shapes I simply used system 3 acrylic paints, and later works with some acrylic spray paints. In retrospect, I would now advise on working with much stronger and less translucent acrylic paint when painting on MDF as I frequently had to coat the wood more than once, which could take up a lot of time, and as a university student, you can't really afford to waste that time. To stick the shapes together I used hot glue guns. Looking back, I definitely could have bought stronger glue, like wood adhesive glue or gorilla glue, for a lot neater and more transparent bonding, but it's all learning, especially when it's the first time trying something completely new. With the exception of one or two materials, there is nothing about this project that I would have changed overall. Since I'm not living at a university, I really miss using the laser cutters, which I found to be incredibly fantastic, but there's always something to get by with. I'm excited to create this work in another series in the future.

Q: What was it like seeing your Elmer in the wild in your own hometown?


A year ago, I never would have imagined that I would be seeing my artwork in the streets of Blackpool, especially not outside of the Tower Circus! The feedback from the trial has been absolutely amazing and the journey from painting my Elmer to seeing him in the wild with the rest of the herd has just been incredible. It has been rather surreal for me to walk into the town and see big groups of people congregating around my Elmer, whether they are visitors or residents, taking pictures or even reading my name off the plaque. I never really thought that this would happen to someone like me, particularly at such an early stage of my career. I'm literally overwhelmed. When I laid eyes on my Elmer outside the tower for the first time, I really couldn't believe it, I still can’t now! I could have taken him home with me. It was such a proud moment for not just myself, but for Brain House and the amazing team who helped ensure he arrived at his spot safely. Seeing everyone's pictures with The Clown on social media has been brilliant and I'm very appreciative that I was able to participate in this amazing opportunity, and for such a great cause too.


©Amy Tomlinson

Q: With the well received reception for your Elmer in particular, being 2nd in the app voting! Would you consider participating more in public art in Blackpool or community projects?


Without a doubt. This project has been an incredible process overall. I enjoy taking part in and working on initiatives that have a significant influence on people and the art industry. I will never pass up the chance to get involved in community projects, no matter what kind of ones Blackpool, or other towns, cities may have in the future.


©Amy Tomlinson

Q: Thank you for an insight into the creation of your elmer! We would love to know if youhave any future plans for more murals or where can we next see your artwork?


Since this is my first trial, I would like to keep engaging in wild art sculpting trials across the country that help make an impact on charities and businesses. I feel confident enough to state that my passion and resilience will allow me to thrive in the future. Plans for more murals are definitely on the way, along with many more other projects to come, keep your eyes peeled. To find more of my work you can find me on instagram at: Amy_Tomlinson.Art.


©Amy Tomlinson

Be sure to follow and find out more about Amy Tomlinson: @amy_tomlinson.art

Find out more about Elmer's Big Blackpool Parade and their work for Brian House Children’s Hospice here: Website: elmerblackpool.co.uk
Instagram: @elmerblackpool


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