The Wiradjuri founder and artist behind Because of My Four believes that change starts with meaningful conversations; person to person and on the canvas.
By Riley Wilson
When Amanda Hinkelmann sits down to create, she prepares to tell a story. Her language of choice is paint and brushes, thick impastos and smooth acrylics that whisper and yell with varying degrees of tone and colour.
“I’m really uncomfortable calling myself an artist, and I still don’t, which is weird because I’ve been painting for almost three years now professionally,” she says. “I’d rather call myself a storyteller. I like to share stories through imagery. A lot of my artworks do have a really deep meaning – a lot of them are around family, community, connection, and connection to country … Special memories that I’ve had, I document that through art. And then I will always accompany my artworks with a certificate of authenticity and I take time in that to write the story of the artwork. So when people buy an artwork, they buy a story.”
Amanda started telling these stories almost three years ago, first as a method of regular connection with her sisters and then as a way to process and cope with trauma. A victim of domestic violence, Amanda found refuge and healing in the palette and the canvas.
“Painting allowed me to work through those things, and it just completed me,” she says.
“I paint because I love to and it’s a form of expression that I’ve never had before.”
“It allows me to put all of my emotions – good and bad – on a canvas. It grounds me and helps me to be the best person I can be, and I’ll just keep on doing it.”
Amanda’s pieces are distinct in their textural integrity; she enjoys working with layers of colour and structural tools to create portals of possibility within the one piece.
But none of it is preconceived, she says. Instead, she works with the colours and tones that speak to her – these days, more pastels and earthier, natural shades rather than the bright colours of past experimentation – and sees where the story goes.
The name of her business, Because of My Four, is an homage to her four children, whom Amanda says “come first”.
“I decided with the business that as it was growing, the decisions I would make and the way it would move would be based around my values of family.”
Her youngest daughter, 5, is her current studio partner, sidling up in Mum’s Wagga Wagga studio to create her own art on sheets of cardboard.
“A lot of [the] techniques and ways I paint, she’s picked up and she paints now, beautifully as well,” says Amanda. “Her colour selection is better than mine. And she sold her first artwork, to me, because it was so beautiful I had to buy it.”
Passing on that learning, Amanda says, brings her great joy.
“It’s lovely. It’s one of my favourite things about it, because she’s not just learning how to apply colour to a canvas, she’s learning techniques and symbolism and meaning behind it.
Using traditional techniques, Amanda’s pieces are imbued with a firm sense of being through the entire creation journey. As a proud Wiradjuri woman, Amanda says she’s “trying to share the beauty of our culture”.
With the theme of “Get Up, Stand Up, and Show Up”, NAIDOC Week 2022 must exist in tandem with a movement beyond acknowledgement and empty intentions into reconciliation and celebration. Amanda says that being open to listening to stories is a fundamental tenet of this process.
“Allowing the truth-telling to happen; allowing opinions and history to be shared, without judgement: I think that’s the biggest thing. Being aware of your own privilege, I suppose,” she says.
“I am a fair-skinned Aboriginal woman, so … I’m not always faced with as much prejudice as other people, but at the same time I’m still facing it. Know that Aboriginality comes in all colours and people’s experience of their own Aboriginality is unique to them. And just being open to understanding, that is the biggest thing.”
Because of My Four shares a piece of this story and understanding through Amanda’s work, which is on the greeting card within every Curated with Conscience hamper. Empowerment of women and working with other female-led businesses is another of her priorities.
“I try to collaborate with First Nations businesses, or companies with a strong understanding of First Nations’ experiences, and females in business wherever possible. I’m a total feminist and I stand up for all things women,” she says. “So to watch other women succeed, I’m all about it and I just think it’s fabulous.”