Category Archives: Art & Design

Snails colours

Arty Snails

Snails: Artist Run Space is a unique one, an ‘all-sorts’ collection of eclectic, cutting edge, avant grad and grunge. We talk to Kirsty Porter, one of three creatives behind the gallery and workshop, to discover what makes it tick.

Snail writingSo for those not in the know, what makes these guys so interesting? In a sentence – its their model. It’s right there in as the name says – artist run. The Snails space enables freedom for artists, with them able to display and sell their work in a central city location at a low cost. “We exist outside of money really,” says Kirsty. With two unique locations in the urban heart of the city, the cheap rent is covered by Kirsty and her two cohorts Sarah Bingle and Miriam De Oude, giving the liberty to do with the spaces whatever they wish. Just like any true artist, costs are kept to the smell of an oily rag so that they can keep the fabulous galleries up and going long-term for all walks of life. “We aren’t like a commercial gallery,” explains Kirsty. “No commission is paid out of the sales of the artist’s works, they just cover the power bill for their time in the space and they can sell as much art as they want. When we have exhibitions, we get the artist to take on the responsibility – the hanging, sitting and sales etc.”

Paint me a rainbowThe fun doesn’t just stop at visual art though – not only are the galleries fantastic for the community’s artists, but also musicians. At the Taonui Street workspace they have hosted bands from Palmerston North, Wellington and even Australia, playing gigs, bringing artists, enthusiasts and creatives alike together in a shared space.

For anyone who wondered, we asked the question many think – why the name Snails? Kirsty confesses the truth: “I’m a gardener, I kill snails all the time.”

Freda Kahlo“So it’s kind of my ‘I’m sorry guys – in honour of killing you all the time, I’m honouring you by naming a gallery after you.”

If you are interested in going to have a look at these gorgeous spaces, go for a stroll and head down to 88 George Street, or the corner of Taonui and Cuba Streets. Every month they have a new artist in residence showcasing new art, bringing a revolving scene of colour and talents to the coffee and arts quadrant of the city.

Find out more on Facebook.

Mabel in the shed

Meet Mabel, the Vintage Caravan Bar

Meet Paul and Kylie Grimmer and the newest addition to their growing family – their 1960s’ Hillcrest Hamilton ‘Silvermist’ caravan, Mabel.

The two are restoring and repurposing a very vintage caravan, taking it from “an immobile derelict sleepout to a stylish travelling bar on wheels”, as Kylie puts it.

Mood board 1Coming to the end of renovating their first home, the couple were looking for “a new and exciting project that we could do together,” Kylie remembers. The pair delight in “taking tired objects and materials and recreating them in an innovative and modern way”, and it was from this love that ‘Mabel’ came into the picture.

Initially the idea was to create a holiday home for their family, just another creative project they could put under their collective belt. But the pair saw a potential business opportunity through Kylie’s experience with event management and marketing. “I believed there was a gap in the local market for boutique and unique goods and services, particularly for the wedding and corporate event market.”

Sandblasting, welding, wiring, painting, plumbing, sewing… the list is endless!

They started their search in 2012 for the right caravan and found it two years later in Whangarei Heads, some 12 hours north.

“The caravan had been located beachside and been stationary for 30 years. Needless to say, she had to be brought back on a trailer, which was a long journey that saw the loss of two windows along the way!”

Old lightsEvery inch of Mabel will be restored from the ground up, “along with a few sympathetic alterations in order for her to take on her new hostess role!”.

“Sandblasting, welding, wiring, painting, plumbing, sewing… the list is endless!”

With their passion for being hands on, Paul and Kylie are planning to do as much of the renovation process as they can themselves. “With the assistance of some talented local engineers and electricians for the tricky technical stuff,” Kylie says.

I believed there was a gap in the local market for boutique and unique goods and services, particularly for the wedding and corporate event market

The hope is to have the finished product looking “classic and romantic with a modern twist”.

Distressed wood, marble and brass – finishes often thought of as strictly ‘permanent dwellings’ – are going to be utilised in creative and refreshing ways.

Mood board 2The ultimate goal is for Mabel to be a “sophisticated and stylish” travelling bar that will be the home and centrepiece of their successful business “Meet Mabel”. Mabel will be ‘met’ and hired for private and corporate events once the renovations are complete, and will be equipped with all the trimmings, “of which many will be built and created by us”. “She will also be available for private photo shoots, dining and select local public events as well.”

“It’s about creating a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!”

Follow Mabel’s journey on here on

A world of creativity

A world of creativity

Thirty proud Maunga Kura Toi students celebrated their artwork last week with the launch of Nga Kete Toi – Te Wananga o Aotearoa art exhibition. The studio is now showcasing a whole world of Maori art waiting to be discovered, and the student artists are eagerly waiting to take everyone on a culture-filled journey. Beautiful weavings, carvings, and paintings are on display, each with a unique story behind it.

Oriwa Morgan-Ward, WaiwheroPainter Oriwa Morgan-Ward is one of the students with works on display, and is thrilled with the exhibition. “Maori art is not saturated, this is a great opportunity to bring it to the rest of the world,” she says. “It’s a way of expressing ourselves, to the public that haven’t experienced life in the world of Maori.”

Oriwa’s painting, Waiwhero, is one of many on display exploring concepts in colour, form, composition and light, to tell a beautiful story of womanhood. Each artist shows immense support and respect for one another, not shying away from showing off each other’s art. While Oriwa is speaking of the process behind creating a painting, she takes a moment to credit the patience carvers have when it comes to making mistakes, “at least we can paint over it! It’s a little harder when you’re a carver.”

Pru Robbie, RarangaPru Robbie, a level six student, has a striking Raranga (weaving) on display that wasn’t an easy task! “It takes a lot of practice to get it right, if the cuts are too deep or too shallow the whole things ruined.” Her approach was to have a simple pattern that was achievable so she could focus on neatness, “then I’ll do something amazing another day”. “I’ve named it Whakawhiti Korero, which means to make back and forth conversation. I have a lot of international people come through my house, then they’ll see this hanging on the wall and ask what it’s about. Well then I can explain Maori tradition, Maori art and create conversations about it.” This flax isn’t just any old flax from the bottom of the garden either – Pru had to travel a considerable distance from her home to find that perfect strong fibre content, and that was the easy part! It then took her two months to put her weaving together. “It’s about doing the practice, doing the hours.”

Up and coming artist, James Wall, whakairo (carving) that was 14 weeks in the making. He started with a piece of wood and has slowly chiseled away, creating a stunning end piece. Each carving presented in the exhibition represents a waka and two gods, depending on the artist’s iwi. Maori art is cleverly full of hidden meanings and spiritual beliefs that are left to be discovered by everyone else. Each line and mark carved into the wood means something. “I wanted to do this because I wanted to get back into my culture,” says James. However, he’s not shy to admit there were a few times things weren’t going to plan, causing a little tension between him and the slab of wood. Seeing the outcome though makes it all worth it. “I think Maori art should be shown to the world, these artworks are something I hold dear.” James is already planning for the future – “I want to try do a bit of contemporary art and maybe even a teaching paper.”

From everything on display in this exhibition, you can see there’s a lot of heart and emotion involved in the art. The spirit behind it, the feelings they evoke, the history… these artworks represent the artists’ family, heritage and who they are. For these students, who they are is all about where they’re from, and their art allows them to express and honour their ancestral knowledge.

The exhibition is open until the 1st October 2015 between 9am – 3pm Monday to Thursday at 32 Ngata Street, Palmerston North. Go check it out and discover a world of Maori culture.


Little Space, Big Heart

The White Room Co has recently popped up in the arts scene and already it’s making a big splash.

When the team at Jumprope, a marketing and design agency, were first presented with the idea of becoming part of the Palmerston North City Council’s Placemaking Initiative, they were excited to bring some new ideas to the table.

Brendan and GregInspired by the already successful spaces that had been established around the city, they wanted to come up with a concept that would transform the corner of Fitzherbert Avenue and College Street into a new and engaging spot that people from all around Manawatu would be proud of.

Utilising unused space in the former Volume 1 book store, what started as a pop-up gallery concept soon became a much bigger collaborative project between the team at Jumprope, Greg Wilson Photography and the building’s owners Michelle and John van Lienen.

With the view to developing a space that not only enhanced the street appeal but was functional and gave back to the community, The White Room Co was created to give emerging artists a platform from which to exhibit and sell their work in a market that they might not otherwise have access to.

The White Room Co has also developed resources and networks that allow each new artist to host an opening event and run an exhibition

As existing galleries around the region have greater barriers to entry, The White Room Co wanted to provide artists with a space that they could help to build, share and be proud of.

The concept of ‘collaboration’ was the key factor in forming The White Room Co and was at the forefront of the minds of the team as they began to build a place that allowed emerging talent to grow. The artists wanting to exhibit have embraced this idea and their friends, families and the local community have all welcomed the chance to pitch in too by helping with everything from hanging exhibits and organising opening events to gallery maintenance and, of course, spreading the word.

Looking inDesigned specifically to be a blank canvas, the group agreed to donate the capital needed and the building underwent renovations to shape it into an industrial-style, light-filled environment suitable for any kind of art.

More than just offering a nice space, The White Room Co has also developed resources and networks that allow each new artist to host an opening event and run an exhibition for between two and four weeks, with added support from the team to help make sure that their time in the gallery is worthwhile and fulfilling.

The White Room Co charges a small commission to cover the costs of running the gallery and invites artists of all backgrounds and disciplines to submit brief portfolios for selection and scheduling.


The Flower Fashionista

Kelsey’s career began with her selling handmade clothing on the internet at the age of 16. Slowly over time this developed into custom bridalwear, and lead to her earning a Bachelor of Fashion from UCOL by the age of 18. “I would sew all my orders on my lunch breaks at Uni,” she remembers.

Being a designer, businesswoman, pattern maker, and seamstress is all in a day’s work for 23 year old Kelsey Genna, work which she says is “honestly my dream job”.

Kelsey GennaHer career has grown “very slowly”, which is something Kelsey is grateful for. “It takes a long time, especially starting young, to really figure out your niche and how you want something to work. Figuring out how to live a really balanced life whilst thriving in your career also took me quite a while.”

Founded in 2012, Kelsey’s bridal label The Flower Bride has been brought to life through floral and nature inspired components. While Kelsey is based in Manawatu, her label is stocked in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchuch and is also established in major centres around the world including Los Angeles, New York and London.

Kelsey has also recently designed and released a new Kelsey Genna activewear range, which she says was inspired by travelling to Indonesia.

I think following your dreams is a beautiful thing but I think it also takes so much more dedication, patience and hard work than anyone realises.

“I spent some time in Bali last year and fell in love with Ubud, a small town up in the forests. It’s a really creative town and there is also a big organic, raw food and yoga culture there. It seems to represent everything I want my activewear brand to be about. I’m spending the next few months based there setting up my activewear line… it’s an inspiring place to be.”

Sold exclusively online, her activewear range incorporates fashion and sport through a variety of unique designs and vibrant printed fabrics.

FAshion in the cityAs well as designing, Kelsey relishes having the opportunity to travel. “I love travelling which is why I’ve tried to incorporate it into my work as much as possible. I find travelling from place to place a little annoying though, which is why I usually try to base myself somewhere for 1­2 months at a time. As long as I keep super organised I find living out of a suitcase really easy.”

This year looks to be a busy one, but Kelsey is excited about the work ahead. “I’m going to be juggling my time between my bridal and activewear, this is my first year working on two big projects. While I am in Bali I will be setting up a base for my activewear and also designing a new bridal collection. I’ll spend a little bit of time tripping around Asia fabric sourcing too, and then I plan to head to New York for the Bridal Market in October.”

It takes a long time, especially starting young, to really figure out your niche and how you want something to work.

While this year is well planned out, Kelsey doesn’t have many solid plans for the future. “Life is ever changing and I’m happy to just see where it takes me. I’m just happy to keep slowly growing. As much as I love my job it is just one part of my life.”

“I think following your dreams is a beautiful thing but I think it also takes so much more dedication, patience and hard work than anyone realises.”

Super Dog

Raining Cats and Dogs

Cats are well known for their attraction to cardboard boxes, but who’s ever heard of cats and rabbits in cardboard planes?

Rain, rain, go awayAnimal photographer Catherine Holmes has a knack for capturing the characters of pets. The UCOL graduate has photographed a myriad of creatures including ambitious chihuahuas selling lemonade, rushed ragdolls in pint-sized cars, and spooky ginger kitties dressed up for Halloween. “Every animal I photograph has its own distinct personality and it’s really fun to try capturing that.

“There’s this spontaneity about animal photography,” Catherine explains. “You get this really amazing photo you didn’t expect because the animal has done something exciting or looked at you in a certain way. Rather than take flat, boring portraits I’ll see that a dog likes to jump, like one I photographed the other day; he literally wouldn’t sit still, jumping the whole time. So we gave him a cape. Now he’s Super Dog and he’s flying!

My cat performed but she’s a bit over it now

“Animals lend themselves so well to emotional interpretation. A cat only has to look into the distance and you can create feelings of sadness or dreaminess.”

Hare ForceThe English ex-pat has used her artistic prowess for good in the past, creating images of animals from Palmerston North and Manawatu rescue centres, which have helped to show them off for adoption. “That’s been really good because I’ve had the opportunity to try out ideas without the pressure from clients, and the animals get exposure for re-homing.”

Catherine’s two cats, Pagan and Pinto, have also been subjected to the photographer’s visions. “I put Pagan in a cardboard aeroplane,” she says. “She only wanted to sit in boxes and I thought, how can I take this further? So I built the box into an aeroplane. I photographed it in the air so it looked like it was above ground, and then I decided to build a cardboard town underneath it,” Catherine laughs. “My cat performed but she’s a bit over it now.”

Animals lend themselves so well to emotional interpretation

It’s hard work getting unruly cuties to pose for pictures, but Catherine has built up a repertoire of tricks to make her subjects behave. “I may have graduated with a photography degree, but working with animals is this whole other skill you only learn by doing. I’ve amassed an array of fluffy toys and things that make specific noises, encouraging dogs’ ears to fly up or cats to turn around. Sometimes you have to be willing to sit on the floor with a handful of cat biscuits, waiting until your model crawls out from under the couch.”

Leonard and DelilahCatherine is currently working on a book to adorn the coffee tables of fellow pet lovers, and she has dreams of her work meeting a wider audience through greeting cards, calendars and even photography exhibitions. Her online store sells various items such as prints, pillows and bags and has proven popular beyond the local community. “There have been people from America buying my work! It’s pretty universal what I do. Everybody likes to see cute animals doing things.”

Michael Bradley

The Chemistry of Creativity

Amy FowlerStory and photos by Amy Fowler.

I had previously only ever experienced any sort of dark-room photography a couple of times, with the world now having moved firmly into the digital realm. The first time was at school, when we spent a couple of days in a dark room processing photographs we had taken in and around the school. At the time I never thought I was going to go into training to be a professional photographer. This initial experience received no more respect for the art than a dismissive grunt before I moved on to other things.

_43A6362In April this year I got to spend a couple of days with photographer Michael Bradley as part of my prize for winning the Canon Eyecon competition.

The competition involved sending in a set of three images, which work together as a series to tell a story. The prize pack included Canon Dollars, real Dollars, a big printer, but most importantly, mentoring sessions with the Eyecon judges Michael Bradley, Aaron K and Danelle Bohane.

The sense of relief and excitement at the resulting image, after it came out of the darkroom, was immense.

A few weeks after posting off my images, I got a call one lunchtime from the Canon Eyecon judging team, informing me I had won the competition. I was absolutely blown away, in tears, and shaking with excitement.

When I spoke to Michael Bradley ahead of mentoring session with him, we discussed my portfolio and wondered what would make for a good day. Michael _43A6382made his name as a sports photographer; we joked about how a day at the cricket possibly wasn’t my cup of tea. I must admit, I can’t even watch a minute of it on television, let alone a whole day! Prior to the call I was absolutely fascinated with haunting portraits on his website that he had taken using a technique called wet plate photography. The conversation inevitably led onto what wet plate photography was and we decided to go ahead and plan for a day doing just that.

First off he decided to make a portrait of me. So we set up the lighting, and I got into place. With a digital camera, we could have snapped the image then and there, then get on with the rest of the day. But with this process, there is a lot to consider. It’s expensive. Every time you take a photograph you use a raft of different chemicals to produce the image. So getting it perfect off the bat is essential. So I sat down and he focused the camera. We had to fashion a makeshift headrest to keep my head very still. The slightest movement results in the image being completely out of focus. He poured collodion (a mix of ether and alcohol once used as _43A6416wartime field dressings) onto a sheet of glass, bathed it in silver nitrate to make the plate light sensitive, before popping the glass into the back of the camera. After refocusing, the back cover of the camera was pulled up, the lens cap came off, the lights popped, the plate came out, and it was ready for developing (using a range of chemicals including alcohol and mosskiller) and fixing. When the plate came out the dark room from having it’s developer bath, the image was there like magic. The intricate detail is incredible. The plate went into the fixer for the final part of the process and my portrait was complete

Prior to the call I was absolutely fascinated with haunting portraits on his website that he had taken using a technique called wet plate photography.

Next it was my turn to photograph Michael. I was extremely nervous. I didn’t want to bugger up the process and come away with no image recorded, or worse still, break one of the plates. We had a practice run with some old collodion on the first plate before moving on to my first real go at wet plate photography. I carefully repeated all of the steps that Michael had showed me. The sense of relief and excitement at the resulting image, after it img146came out of the darkroom, was immense. The day with Michael really inspired me to delve even more deeply into the fine art that is photography.

I’m indebted to UCOL in Palmerston North, where I trained in photography. During my time as a student I was fortunate to win the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Iris Awards title of Student Photographer of the Year two years in a row, in 2013 and 2014.

Shaaanxo at home

Shaaanxo – YouTube Sensation

Almost five years ago Shannon Harris picked up a camera and started talking. With more than one million YouTube subscribers to date, she has become ingrained in the social media video blogging, or vlogging, sphere and has created for herself the household name Shaaanxo.

Tea timeWhen a hobby turns into a full-time job you know you are on to a good thing. “I didn’t even know you could make a living off YouTube,” says Shannon. “One day I got an email from YouTube saying ‘We want to start monetising your content’ and I thought, ‘Is this spam?’ I just used my vlog as a hobby to meet new people who had the same interests as me.”

Shannon’s blogs are the most subscribed and viewed online shows for fashion and beauty in New Zealand. Through her YouTube channel the Palmerston North beauty teaches anyone with an internet connection all about the world of makeup and fashion. She also lends advice on cooking, exercise and wellbeing. If this weren’t enough, she also has her own ‘xoBeauty’ business line, all of which is just in a day’s work for the 22 year old.

I don’t think YouTube is ever going to fade away, it’s taking over

The secret to her success is something even Shannon can’t quite put her finger on. “I don’t really know. I try to be myself and that comes off quite genuine I suppose, rather than trying to be scripted or professional because I’m not a professional or a makeup artist, I’m just another girl in her bedroom doing makeup. I just try to be positive and happy. I think people like seeing happiness.”

Face of success“No one else I knew really liked makeup that much, so YouTube was a good outlet. I didn’t really have any goals at first, but I guess now it’s educating people about makeup in New Zealand because it’s not really a huge thing here. I’m just trying to inspire other people.”

The constant stream of videos, photos and updates is anything but ordinary and is inspired predominantly by feedback from her followers. “I like to cover a lot of different things so that it’s interesting all the time. A lot of my ideas are from my viewers; I’ll ask them for inspiration or what they want to see. That’s a huge part because obviously you want them to watch it.”

When working from home Shannon enjoys the flexibility of being able to “do whatever I feel like doing on that day”. “On a typical day I usually go straight to my computer and answer all my business emails; I get on average about 150 a day. Then I jump into filming and try to film one or two videos. In the afternoon I like to sit back and start some editing, do some social media updates and post photos that I’ve taken.”

XO Beauty brushes“I have a separate room from where I film, which is different from my bedroom, but sometimes I’ll cart my computer out into the lounge and edit there just so it’s different, because it gets a bit hectic just working in the same area all the time.”

Her booming business, xoBeauty, is a professional brush and lash company that was developed in October 2012. “Makeup brushes are one of my favourite things because they are underrated in New Zealand. It is really hard to find good quality at a cheap price, so I thought there was a gap in the market. False eyelashes are something I just really love and I found I had so much fun designing them. It was just one of those things that came naturally to me.”

I try to be myself and that comes off quite genuine I suppose, rather than trying to be scripted or professional

At such a young age, Shaaanxo is taking her career one step at a time. “I can see myself doing what I’m doing throughout the majority of my life, but maybe not the exact same thing as what I’m doing right now. There is always room to do videos no matter where I am in life.”

At work“I also want to really focus on my business. As a hobby vlogging will always be there. I don’t think YouTube is ever going to fade away, it’s taking over. You are always going to get negative people so you’ve just really got to look past that and focus on positive people.”

Her advice to others is mainstream, but sincere. “Just follow your dreams. For me I was just your typical Palmy girl who didn’t have any special treatment or anything. I always knew I wanted my own business one day but never really knew what I wanted to do. I love makeup and doing makeup so I found an opening for my own opportunity. There is always a way.”

Craig Kawana

Shaping our Culture

With a shed located deep in the heart of Ashhurst, Craig Kawana is creating history through his commissioned carvings for Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge.

When the call was put out for projects to beautify Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge, traditional Maori carvings to decorate the entranceway were a popular choice. Five months on, Craig Kawana, from Rangitāne/Ngati Apa and Muaupoko iwi, is using his talent and expert knowledge of Rangitāne carving style to craft stunning works of art.

CarvingDeciding to leave his job at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to take up the full-time project of uplifting Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge was not a simple choice for Craig. “It was a bit of a leap of faith, or should I say a jump. I was a bit over teaching and I wanted to get back to being hands on. It was a good
opportunity. I was doing my Masters and doing contract work as well and it was overwhelming. Something was going to give.” Craig also saw it as an opportunity to get back to ‘Rangitāne-tanga’ and immerse himself in work that celebrated his culture. “Every iwi has their own style of carving. This project is about the survival of the Rangitāne art form, so that it survives into the future.”

Carving has been part of Craig’s life for a long time, with it becoming his career of choice from the age of 14 years. While he was attending Awatapu College, his teacher, Waana Davis, now the Toi Māori Chairperson, recognised his hankering to learn more about his culture. “She took a group of us up to Pahiatua College. I walked into this room and there was a group of Māori carving and it was the first time that I had ever seen Māori carving by Māori. The feeling hit me like a brick wall and I have been chasing that feeling ever since. It was the first connection I had to my culture.”

That sense of connection is an intrinsic part of Craig’s work, and he hopes his carvings will enable people to make personal connections with the land and learn about its ancestral and cultural history. He has dubbed his Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge project Te Hono nga Maunga. “Hono means joining and nga Maunga means the meeting of the mountains, because that is where the carving is going, right between the two peaks at the entranceway.”

The feeling hit me like a brick wall and I have been chasing that feeling ever since. It was the first connection I had to my culture

Staying inspired is made easier thanks to Craig’s workspace, a shed in Ashhurst Domain that sits atop a historic fort site. “This area here used to be a pā site. Otangaki is the name of this place. It means to pull out the weeds and prepare the land for cultivation.

“For me it is a positive name. I have turned my life around. I was teaching and I got rid of that and came out here. I can do Rangitāne-tanga. That’s the thing for me. I can do Rangitāne style, Rangitāne stories, Rangitāne histories for the future of our great-grandchildren. This is my way of setting up Rangitānetanga to leave a legacy that they can take and learn.”

The shed has also become a hidden attraction for visitors to Manawatu, offering New Zealanders and international tourists the chance to see a true Māori carver at work. Craig has also created a display of other iconic cultural items, like a taonga pūoro (Māori trumpet).

Tools of the trade“We had Chinese delegates who came to visit on behalf of UCOL. They were looking at the viability of bringing Chinese university students to study in Palmerston North. The tutors didn’t know what to do with them, so one of my mates suggested they bring them out here. They loved it. He said that it was worth millions to UCOL and you just sealed the deal for us. Now they are going to have people coming out here to study and learn more about our culture.”

“Let’s tell the stories of the Gorge. It’s not just Rangitāne stories; it’s everybody’s stories – Scandinavian stories, Pākehā stories and immigrant stories. Rangitāne stories are not where it ends. Closer to today there are other people’s stories that have developed. You have to tell everyone’s stories so that they can connect to the place. It becomes special for everyone.”

Torn apart

A passion for the hard issues

UCOL photography student Amy Fowler is in a unique position. She has just won the Epson-New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography’s Student Photographer of the Year award for the second year in a row. It is the first time in the award’s history that this has occurred, and Amy says she is still speechless regarding her double win. “The other finalists were so amazing, I just don’t know how they managed to pick. It has been an absolutely overwhelming, crazy period.”

Parents living through their childrenAmy picked up Gold Awards for both of her competition photographs this year. The first, showing a woman ripped in half by ropes, represents “being torn apart by the gender equality issue of women being split between motherhood and their careers”. The second, a bald girl covered in heavy makeup, highlights “how parents try to live through their children by pushing them into something they may not want to do”, and is considered by Amy to be “one of my strongest images”.

Both pieces were created to stimulate discussion, and are centred on wider societal issues. “The images were very personal things that, at the time, I was very passionate about,” explains Amy. “I hit hard on issues that are happening at the moment but otherwise I just try to produce fine art. I trawl the internet for all sorts of different artists and collaborations that inspire me.”

Amy FowlerThis passion is a driving force behind Amy’s work, and is one she has had for most of her life. “Mum had a film camera and I was always the centre of that camera’s lens. I was inspired by that.”

Now, with her Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging degree almost finished, Amy is working hard to complete a final yearlong assignment, which requires her to write her own brief and create a collection of fine art. “The eight pieces are in the theme of Grimm fairy tales. I am trying to work through the bumps of it, like the backgrounds, the models, the makeup artists and the costumes.”

Torn Apart - full versionAlso requiring her attention is her and her partner Kelvin’s new retouching photography company, Novo Retouching. The business specialises in photography and video post-production editing, and has been running for a year. Amy is also looking to expand in the future. “After I graduate I would like to start a photography side of the business and work together. Long term I would love to be in an advertising agency.”

With so many projects and so much potential for the future, it is easy to understand why Amy says, “Photography is literally my life”.