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A Conversation with Amy Isles Freeman

A Conversation with Amy Isles Freeman

To celebrate Pride Month this year, we teamed up with Amy Isles Freeman, an artist and illustrator from Brighton, and a fellow LGBTQ+ founder. Amy's work is joyful yet communicates a powerful message that explores female sexuality, joy, and freedom. Hand drawn on wax by Amy and then cast in metal by us, your jewellery is a fusion of traditional skills made to empower you.

Founded on the core ethos of kindness, quality, and sustainability, Wild Fawn is determined to make jewellery that not only looks good, but does good too. Our aim for the collaboration collection was to create an exclusive jewellery collection that celebrates love in all its forms with a charitable aspect. 100% of the profit from each piece will be donated to MindOut, an LGBTQ+ charity.

https://www.wildfawnjewellery.com/collections/pride-2023

Give us some insights into your background, did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

I wanted to be an artist from the very beginning. My mum was an illustrator when I was young, and all our play was art. It would be impossible to extricate myself from this influence, and from art being a point of connection, but I do believe that it’s intrinsic to the make up of my being. I loved it through school, and studied a foundation and then a drawing degree at Falmouth Art School, graduating in 2014. Since then I have made work constantly, going full time as an artist in 2016 with a collection of hand turned, hand painted wooden bowls for Liberty London. I parted ways with my bowls not long after that, but I now hand paint denim clothing, design for print and t shirts, paint murals, illustrate for clients and run around fields in the summer months working on festival decor and creative briefs.

LGBTQ+ founded business Pride charity collaboration jewellery

Your work explores female sexuality, joy and freedom, why have you focused on this subject matter?

My female figures emerged whilst I was on my degree. I was living with a close friend who was having a tough time with her sexuality, and I wanted to make work that showed her that being queer was going to be beautiful. I was also trying to get a handle on my own sexual identity. I lived in Cornwall which felt so far away from any sort of queer scene, so my art became a way that I could feel a part of something. I didn’t have many words for what I was feeling, and so drawing was so important in my exploration of my queerness. 

The world has changed in the last ten years, but when we were students the mainstream female queer aesthetic seemed limited to emo doodles or rainbows, neither of which ignited me on any level. And so I began drawing women together- sometimes in sexually intimate clinches, but mostly just in loving moments. My focus was on exploring the subject beautifully, but also with lightness and humour.

I had been to a Dorothy Iannone exhibition that year, and her show had one of the most impactful effects on my work. Using humour and playfulness, she communicated her feminism and ideals in a way that I didn’t know was possible. I wanted to make this happen for me, to configure my swirling feelings and ideas on feminism and queer identity into celebratory and joyful images that anyone would want to engage with.

LGBTQ+ founded business Pride charity collaboration jewellery

Which type of surface do you enjoy working on most; walls, paper or denim

Each has their own delight, but there is nothing like working big. When you make big pieces, you use your whole body. Your hands, eyes, forearms, biceps, belly, lungs, bum, knees, ankles… they are all connecting to create the colourful manifestation of the thoughts you’ve conjured. The ideas can flow through the moving body, and without even trying your problem solving abilities are vastly improved. Rarely does a mural come out exactly how I planned it, because on the ground I have come up with better outcomes as I go. And then it’s about the context of your artwork, and who it’s for. I love creating things that are to be treasured and coveted privately, but art should be for everyone and so a big public mural feeds the egalitarian in me, and actually I think a similar thing happens with the clothing. I sell at festivals, and I can watch my pieces skip off into the fields, their wearers becoming walking pieces of public art.

LGBTQ+ founded business Pride charity collaboration jewellery

What drew you towards this collaboration with WF?

I have wanted to create some jewellery for a while now, and when Wild Fawn approached me I felt instantly that our energies resonated. Big female energy, big queer female energy, but subtle and gentle.

LGBTQ+ founded business Pride charity collaboration jewellery

How did you find working on wax for this collaboration?

Working with wax was a new and fiddly challenge... It's a lovely medium once I got used to the tiny scale. It was the tiny scale that really created the limits to the design that I could make, but often limits are what we artists crave. I wanted to put all my thoughts, feelings, experiences, failures and successes and distill them into a pendant the size of a fingernail. I wanted to create something that when you saw it, it was obviously mine. So you can probably imagine the sheets of tiny drawings, the blank stares whilst sharpening my pencils over and over, and the glassy gazes towards my ceiling at night as I racked my brains for an image that would be able to capture all that I wanted. But I think that we managed to create something that does it all for me, and it's magic to see it immortalised in gold and silver.

pride charity jewellery collection LGBTQ+ founded business

Which of our collaboration pieces is your favourite?

The piece that most excites me is the WF X AIF Pride Charity 9ct Gold Ring I think. Perhaps it's the cultural resonance of a ring, or my own relationship with my hands, or the significance of hands in relationships... whatever the reason, it's the ring that sings to me.

LGBTQ+ founded business Pride charity collaboration jewellery

Was it important to you that this collaboration also did some good by donating to an LGBTQ+ charity?

Supporting LGBTQ+ charities is always important, and it feels more pertinent to be supporting people where we can at the moment. MindOut is a great local organisation who provide mental health support for the queer community. I've been lucky enough in my life to have access to therapy, and I have seen the positive impact that it can have. I believe that therapy should be given as standard periodically throughout our lives on the NHS, but alas we don't live in that world. So for now, amazing organisations take it upon themselves to raise money and provide counselling to their users, and MindOut does exactly that. A few sessions can change a life.

LGBTQ+ founded business Pride charity collaboration jewellery

Have you ever felt discrimination or benefitted in your industry being a member of the LGBTQ+ community?

I work in an industry that is usually full of queers and neurodiverse humans, so I haven't had any noticeable professional discrimination. I live in a time where being queer is now cool, and so me and my work have a different currency. This is interesting and challenging in itself - is queerness a trend?

LGBTQ+ founded business Pride charity collaboration jewellery

Besides creating, what do you like to do?

I am a lone wolf the majority of the time. When I'm not making work, I am running along the cliffs in the morning, running straight into the sea. I love cooking and baking, and then running around town trying to give my cakes to friends. In the summer I am on the road in my van called Stella, working at festivals, then dipping away to find a quiet spot to swim in rivers and walk through woods and drink wine on my van stoop and listen to geeky podcasts.

LGBTQ+ founded business Pride charity collaboration jewellery

Can you offer any advice to someone hoping to become an artist and businesswoman like you?

Advice? Christ. Be kind to yourself. Forgive your mistakes, it's just what it took to get you to where you are now. Remember that you are here because of your creativity, that's your key to the world. Use it. Care less about the things that really don't matter, care more about the bits that do.

To find out more about Amy and her work check out her website and shop the collection.