Artists in Lockdown: Amanda Chambers RWA

In a special series, we asked artists associated with the RWA about how the COVID-19 lockdown has affected their life and work. The next artist is Amanda Chambers, who was working in Japan when lockdown began…

“… I was very conscious of living through a historic moment in real time and of the need to stay positive.”

Amanda Chambers – ‘Akai Mori’ (Red Forest) ceramic sculpture

“I was scheduled to under take a three month residency at the beginning of the year in Japan. I arrived at Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park on the 1st February as the coronavirus was spreading across Asia and I ended up staying in the country until early June.

“Over the four months I completed several works, primarily a large scale ceramic sculpture entitled ‘Akai Mori’ (Red Forest) inspired by the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima and the effect of radiation on pine trees.

“I was also commissioned by Green Legacy Hiroshima to develop 100 small sculptures to commemorate 75 years since the atomic bombing of Japan, in particular the story of the Hibaku Jumoku, the trees that survived the attack.

“The experience of being in Japan during the State of Emergency and witnessing the experiences of my friends and family in Lockdown Britain was intensely challenging. I was also very conscious of living through a historic moment in real time and of the need to stay positive.
“In some ways it helped that I was dealing with the subject matter of Hiroshima, Chernobyl and Fukushima in my work, and how the past, if we learn from it, can help us shape a better future. It was one of the reasons why I chose to end my residency with an exhibition entitled ‘Ashita’ (‘Tomorrow’).
Amanda Chambers – Hiroshima commission, unfired tests
Amanda Chambers – Hiroshima commission final pieces (selected images)
Amanda Chambers – ‘Untitled’ (unfired clay with risk husks)
Amanda Chambers – ‘Untitled’ (charcoal and stone drawing)


About the artist

Artist statement: ‘My work primarily considers our relationship to the past. I place particular emphasis on proximity, and how the use of handmade processes (often invented, traditional or low tech) creates an intimacy between the historical subject and the viewer. Subjects may often revolve around cycles of conflict, with an additional interest in revealing lost, obscure or socio-political narratives. My recent experiences in Japan have led to an interest in the use of natural materials and how historical events have impacted on the natural world.’

Amanda joined the RWA as an Artist Network Member in 2016, and was elected an Academician in 2020.



Concept and interview by Laurel Smart


The Friends of the RWA is an independent charity that supports the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol’s first art gallery. 
For just £35 a year Friends can make unlimited visits to RWA exhibitions and enjoy a host of other benefits, as well as making an important contribution to the arts in Bristol and the South West. Find out more and join up here.

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