08 Sep Back To The Future | Illustration on show by Amber Smith
An ardent supporter of local illustrators, Wolves in Illovo regularly exhibits the work of fine, young illustrators coming up through the ranks, often being the hosts of their first solo shows. A favourite of their’s, whose work we share an affinity for, is Johannesburg-based illustrator and designer Amber Smith. Moving on from her nostalgia-laced drawings of collections of wrist watches, retro PEZ dispensers, ceramic animals and old coins, her latest work looks forward to space travel and the realms of the unknown. However, as ever, relics from the past are a big influence on this series and include vintage Bowie, Dr Who and the 80s’ ‘Back to the Future’ which Amber has borrowed as the title of her show. Although predominantly Amber’s show, she invited some of her fantastic illustrator friends to submit relevant works to join hers on the wall. They include Lize-Marie Dreyer, Meryl Booth, Sonia Dearling, Megan Bird, Martin Rossouw, Karabo Moletsane, Maaike Bakker, Inus Pretorius and Gerhard van Wyk.
We asked Amber to let us know more about the show and how she decided on the theme. She says, “The initial inspiration behind this exhibition came from a combination of my love for David Bowie’s early 1970s albums and my newly formed obsession with the Doctor Who television series. The overall theme or feel I wanted for the exhibition gravitated towards retro-futurism with a 1980s influence. The title, ‘Back to the Future’, is obviously borrowed from the popular 80s film trilogy of the same name. However, it also lends itself to the idea of retro-futurism.
“The brief I wrote for the contributing illustrators had two options. Option one was to illustrate a poster inspired by old sci-fi film posters, much like Forbidden Planet. The second option was to illustrate two retro-futuristic inventions. The inventions could be real, imagined or re-imagined.”
A series that developed within the overarching theme is ‘The Gemini Project’, a collection of paired portraits of opposite sex twins. Cosmonauts, scientists or androids, each character has a namesake either from a song, film, book or television series.
Every spaceman needs a companion. Amber’s three ‘Ray Guns’ are each named after her favourite companions from Doctor Who.
‘Speaking of Space’ consists of three framed pieces that combine typography and collage. The collage makes up the background while typography is painted on the inside of the glass. Here are two of the three.
David Bowie largely inspired Amber’s ‘Starman’ piece with his mysterious astronaut character of Major Tom referenced in a few of his songs. Here’s a sneak peek:
‘Back to the Future’ opened at Wolves on the 22nd of August, catch it in full before the 26th of September.
More from Amber at www.behance.net/amberarrow