I recently spoke with renowned polymer clay artist Wendy Moore, and had a chance to ask her a whole slew of questions. Find out more about Wendy’s brilliant art, and her experiences in both remote Nepal and the Australian outback that inspire it.
How long have you been an artist?
I have loved drawing, painting, making…creating… for as long as I can remember and am lucky that I have been encouraged to do that all of my life. And I don’t need to get too specific about how long that is but let’s just say that’s a long time.
Where is your studio…and could you describe it?
I have always carved out a space for myself to create wherever I’ve been. At the moment it is a lovely sunny second bedroom that occasionally has to be slept in but usually can be “creatively messy”. I crave natural light and have moments of being organised but can adapt to mess. In Nepal I worked from a small desk with very limited supplies but had the compensation of being able to look out of my window to see the jungle and monkeys and langurs and magnificent tropical flowers.
What materials do you like working with the most and why?
I love polymer clay. I have worked with it for over 20 years and am still enthralled by its potential and capacity to inspire and delight. I love the infinite range of colours I can make with a few basic blocks and now have a huge folder full of my colour recipes. I love seeing people in classes suddenly aware of what they can do with polymer and I love that I am still learning and exploring. I get a real kick out of millefiore caning although I am exploring textures more now.
What on your workbench at the moment? i.e. what are you currently working on?
For the last few years I have been in Nepal and very engaged with the women from Samunnat. I have only done a little of my own work but not many of my earring holder ladies or other figures. And now people are saying Where are they!!?? So I have a scantily clad, half formed woman on my desk waiting for both a face and garments. She will wear a sari and carry a thing made from a bit of bead weaving I scrounged from one of my current favourite places – the Broken Hill tip. I have the leftovers from a ladybird class I did on the weekend and the beginnings of a necklace I am making in response to a few requests.
Where do you sell your artwork?
If I am organised, some of the galleries that carry the work of the Samunnat ladies have some of my work as well. Or at least a promise that they will get some THIS YEAR!!! These include Flourish Arts in Birchgrove, The Art Vault in Mildura, Red Earth Opals in White Cliffs and Art Back Cafe in Wentworth. I also hope to set up my own etsy store before I die but at the moment sell most things to friends and family. People who buy my creations seem to end up being friends anyway.
Who is your favourite artist and why?
Impossible to name just one polymer artist! Heather, you were the first real live polymer artist I met and I was fascinated by what you made and loved your classes. I adore the work of Tory Hughes and working through her Five Simple Directions Creative Development was a real turning point. I love the work of Dayle Doroshow, Kathleen Dustin, Cynthia Toops, Melanie Muir and Laurie Mika. Cynthia Tinapple is like a guru. I have just bought myself a necklace by Genevieve Williamson whose work is so different to mine but it resonates deeply. I find my mum, who works in textiles, a constant inspiration. And finally, those magnificent women I work with in Nepal.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
As well as the artist above, I am inspired by students in my classes. So much creativity. And I love going to galleries and museums to look at the work of non polymer artists too. I know it is a bit of a cliché, but I am very inspired by Nature. However…Nepal is probably my most consistent and powerful source of inspiration. I am absolutely transported by the colours, textures, landscape and traditional jewellery there. Living there I was constantly scribbling in a little book full of notes and ideas and possibilities. A few of which have seen the light of day! And it happens every time I travel there. The same thing is happening as I immerse myself more in the desert landscape out here. Totally different but so rich.
Have you had a mentor in your creative life? What did you gain by their mentoring?
For a few years ago I met weekly with my gorgeous friend Shelley and (as Luscious Ladies) we made having fun with polymer an absolute priority. We did some teaching together and she inspired me to be braver than I would have been. Nowadays, I chat occasionally by email with a couple of people in the non polymer world for whom creating is also as essential as breathing. Tory Hughes and Cynthia Tinapple who I have mentioned before have also been profoundly important (without either of them knowing it!) and the ladies in Nepal teach me as much, if not more, than I teach them.
Do you teach your artwork to others?
I adore teaching (and teach both adults and children) and teach when I can. I stay in Nepal two times a year for a couple of months or so at a time. Most of that time I am working with the Samunnat ladies. It is much more collaborative than teaching. Then back here I teach regularly at Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery and am also teaching in Sydney, White Cliffs and Adelaide. There are plans afoot for classes in Mildura and Wentworth and look, give me an airfare and I’d travel! Details of classes are on my website.
What particular piece that you’ve made is your favourite and why?
I’ve chosen one figurative and one jewellery piece. Both grew in response to a challenge and I like that. The necklace happened when I ran out of clasps in Nepal and wanted to come up with a design that didn’t need clasps. The original sold off my neck to an effusive and persistent lady in Kathmandu who didn’t listen to my hesitant stuttering line about keeping it for myself.
Torycinthe, the figure, has a long story way too boring to go into here but I may put it in my blog one day. Let’s just say that she too, has borne adversity with dignity and creativity and I find her inspiring in her own inanimate way.
What would you say to others to encourage their own creativity?
I would say first of all that I passionately believe that EVERYONE is creative. I also think that a first step is to stop comparing what you do with other people and just to do what you are happy doing. Explore to find out what that is. Set aside a small space and bit of time to just play with ideas. Don’t set a ridiculous goal but just start small. A good start is the Creative Sparks books by Cynthia Tinapple and Dayle Doroshow.
I think creating is as essential as breathing and that we are made to create in some way. I could go on and on (you’ve guessed that already) but have seen how creating transformed women who saw themselves as helpless victims into strong, feisty, confident women who are taking more control of their lives in a very difficult situation. I see creativity bring respite and refreshment to people whose lives are spent in service and struggle. I see creativity bring great joy and laughter and am quite unashamedly evangelical about the need to have creativity in your life.
Details for Wendy Moore:
PO Box 463 BROKEN HILL
And about Samunnat – the ladies in Nepal
etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SamunnatShop