Sculptor Amelia Johnson, born in Kent in 1999, is an emerging artist currently based in Central London. Johnson primarily focuses upon the use of papier-mâché and paper clay to sculpt colourful and comical characters. Through this lens of humour Johnson addresses social issues such as gender, politics, female empowerment, and sexuality in a light-hearted manner that detracts from the intensity of the stigma surrounding the topics.
Johnson first discovered how effective the device of comedy could be in encouraging observer engagement whilst working on her largest sculptural work to date, entitled The Allegory of Solomon Montgomery (2019). This work cut such a strikingly absurd figure that it evoked clear shock and amusement from every observer, thus revealing to Johnson how, by creating aesthetically comical works, she could not only draw in observers with ease but also address serious and often stigmatised issues without fear of emotional fatigue. Johnson straddles the line between comedy and tragedy, with the relationship between the two oppositional concepts becoming the primary motif of her work.
This piece is also reflective of a breakthrough in terms of media for Johnson, as the figure embodies her first large scale piece using paper clay. This medium is, by nature, both malleable and lightweight enough to make expansive figurative works without the need for specialist technical abilities, as with other more traditional sculptural media. By consequence of this, paper clay proved to be an invaluable resource in the early days of Johnson’s practise and, alongside papier-mâché, now forms the central facet of Johnson’s sculptures. These pieces are later completed with a colourful array of acrylic paints, with focus upon colour clashes and patterns, to further feed into the comic aspects of the works.
Johnson is currently a second year Fine Art BA student at Central Saint Martins, having completed her Fine Art Foundation Diploma at UCA Canterbury in May 2019. Alongside her studies Johnson has also competed in several national art competitions throughout the early years of her career, consequently achieving first place in the BBC Little Painting Challenge of 2015, three highly commended works in the National Students Art Exhibition in 2016, 2017, and 2018, as well as a spot on the shortlist for the 2016 Turner Contemporary Portfolio Prize amongst other accolades. Most recently Johnson has had her piece Portrait of George Chapman: A 100 Year Collaboration (2020) accepted in the Central Saint Martins Private Collection and exhibited her piece The Snog at the POW! Thanet Festival 2021.