Amanda White and her Writers’ Houses

Art & Design | Profile feature

Cooperated with Chinese fashion designer Timmy Tian last year, British artist Amanda White got her collages Writers’ Houses on fashion show stage for the first time.

At the age of 52, and usually dressed in baggy sweater with glasses, Amanda White is full of zest, displaying the same passion towards her collage creation “Writer’s House”. She uses magazine pages and other materials to build houses of the writers she appreciated.

Date back to her first house collage, she describes it as a beautiful accident. It was a visit to Keats House and a pile of discarded fashion magazines from her daughter that have paved the road. She said: “It (Keats House) is so beautiful that I would like to keep that beauty on canvas or paper.” But she found collage could be a better way to show the house vividly. After she finished Keats House and uploaded it online, the staff of Keats House called her to ask about ordering cards and printed work, which inspired her a lot.

Amanda’s “Writer’s House”

Amanda is a art lover. Addicted to Holbein’s portraits and inspired by works of medieval and Renaissance painters William Blake, Henri Rousseau, Frida Kahlo, Alfred Wallis and Eric Ravilious, she has developed her collage works in innocent and plain style. She said:

“I’ve always been attracted by folk art and I like colors, patterns and simple shapes.”

Amanda is a literature lover as well. The collage helps to hypostatize her enthusiasm and love of literature and art. Amanda also makes collages of gardens and imaginary historical portraits inspired by the people she reads about in her research for her writers’ houses. She said:

“Sometimes they are just women mentioned in a brief paragraph. I really like resuscitating them!”
Amanda’s imaginary historical portrait

Chinese fashion designer Timmy Tian came across Amanda’s collages when visiting the website. She said:“When I look at the collages, I just feel like dreaming back to childhood lying on the grass paved by magazine pages.”

Timmy Tian’s fashion brand “Unlogical Poem” with Amanda’s “Writer’s House”

To make those collages, it begins with researches on the writer’s life and historical background and the house itself. Her experience on stage design is useful. The key for the design is to imagine she is in the writer’s house at that time, like the arrangement of drama scene.

Besides, collecting magazines becomes one of Amanda’s daily works. Some are from her friends and she buys a lot from the local flea market. The Vogue magazine and National Geographic are her favorite because of the colors and the paper quality. Sometimes Amanda gets some ideas when getting along with them. She takes notes anytime and anywhere. Therefore, everywhere in the house there are always pens and paper so that she can marks down the useful sketches, graffiti and sentences in the book at any time. The notebooks and black ballpoint pens used are the cheapest ones used in schools. Amanda said with a shy grin: “My notebooks are always at sixes and sevens!”

After getting married with a Spain man, she moved to Tenerife in Canary Island of Spain. Now she lives in a quiet place trucked away down a rickety road with lots of birdsong. There is a large garden that usually takes up a couple of hours of her day with palms, bougainvillea and jacaranda trees.

Amanda’s house in Canary Island, Spain

Amanda feels comfortable of her life but sometimes misses her mother who lives in Northwest England. She will be in London in May for the Association of Illustrators’ London Spaces and Places exhibition because her collage of Benjamin Franklin House has been selected. So she plans a visit to her mother after the exhibition. She said:”I suppose my art is a way of escaping back to my English roots!”