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Whaley Bridge artist Amanda Horvath

Judy Brown

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Amanda HorvathWhaley Bridge

Amanda Horvath painting at Hollywell Bay

Sunlight and wonder fill the canvasses propped around Amanda Horvath’s attic studio. ‘For me’, she says, ‘painting is all about light: capturing the colours of light as it falls on the land or the sea. Nature is my inspiration, and painting is my way of understanding and then sharing what I see.’ 

Amanda has loved the natural world for as long as she can remember. In earliest childhood she had to spend months on end in an orthopaedic hospital. ‘In summer they put our cots outside under the trees in the fresh air, so I would lie on my back looking up at the sky through changing patterns of greenery. Even now, whether up on a moor or a clifftop, in a cottage garden or deep in a wood, I like to spend hours simply looking, listening, taking in the feel of a place.’ 

Amanda Horvath

On leaving school, Amanda trained as a nurse. ‘I enjoyed nursing’, she admits, ‘but art had been my favourite subject at school and always in my heart I wanted to be an artist. At 30, I decided to follow my dream.’ At Sheffield Hallam University she achieved a first-class honours degree, a national art award, the opportunity to exhibit her work in a prestigious London gallery, and a job as a college lecturer. Nonetheless, she returned to community nursing, with its more regular hours and dependable salary, while continuing to paint in her spare time. 

But in 2017 Amanda had to stop work for an operation on her hip. For months afterwards she could hardly walk. ‘My art studio became my haven. Missing my patients and nursing colleagues, I needed to occupy my mind and hands. I looked at my photo collections and old sketchbooks and started to turn the images into paintings.’ 

The photos and sketches unlock memories of outdoor days, memories that brighten her paintings: salt breezes, boots crunching heather, the blueish quality of the air on a Welsh headland. The key, she explains, is to notice the details – the play of light on water; the lifting wavelets or blowing grasses; the colours that glow sharp or strong then fade as shafts of sunshine touch and pass. Photos may provide shape and structure, but paint brings the scene to life in catching the wonder of the moment. 

Working mainly in rich acrylic colours, Amanda has developed a unique method of layering the paint with a palette knife to build up a picture full of texture, depth and distance. She takes commissions, and you can see examples of her work on display at Jarva in Whaley Bridge or on her website at http://www.amandahorvath.co.uk/