Born in Dubbo, on Wiradjuri Country, Amy Tracey has always loved the natural environment and when she decided to enrol in a floristry course on a whim, “the fit was just right.”
“I’m not sure if I chose flowers or they chose me. I’d been living in such a high pressured, fast paced world and I needed to dive into something fresher, something more alive.”
It was because of this feeling that Amy founded Flannel Billy, a design label that blends fashion and floristry. The name of the business combines two of Amy’s favourite Australian natives, flannel flowers and billy buttons.
She is drawn to the beauty and endurance of native Australian flowers, and while most of her work uses them solely, she also combines them with flowers from all over the world. “It’s quite a beautiful metaphor to see a soft Asian orchid working in harmony alongside harsh Australian wattle. A lot of the time I pair together combinations which in text books you’re taught to avoid.”
Amy graduated from UTS in 2012 with a Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles and says that the skills she learnt affect her daily work in floristry. “My eye for colour, my knack for balancing shape and contrast, my desire to push boundaries and my ability to think creatively for design briefs… These skills are so transferable to a range of different crafts and industries including floral design.”
In addition to her floral arrangements, Amy has released a line of textiles inspired by native flora.
“I tend to tell stories within my textiles, whether that be a dreaming about how the Kangaroo got her pouch or an explanation of how my people traditionally used the bottle brush plant. Putting ink to cloth for my people has long been about story telling.”
Her career highlight so far has been working for Australian Indigenous Fashion Week, making headdresses, jewellery, handbags and even whole dresses out of native plants and flowers. She’s also created work for catwalks shows from Artisans of Fashion, and the Indian Film Festival Melbourne.
While she enjoys large-scale jobs such as installations or pieces for fashion editorial, her favourites are the small ones for special occasions. “Flowers are so emotive and they can bring so much joy… There is nothing quite like delivering a piece to a customer for their big occasion.”
Amy says that one of the best parts of being an Indigenous designer is feeling part of a wider community. “I know there is a large family of other artists and designers willing to help me if I need it. Throughout the year I get to attend a lot of events and I get to watch my peers grow, succeed and support each other.”
In the future Amy is excited to develop her clothing line, as well as continue her work in floral design.
Her advice to young aspiring artists: “Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what you want to work on when you’re 18. And if you think you know and it turns out you were wrong, don’t be afraid to chase new possibilities. As long as you’re learning, as long as you’re exploring, as long as you’re creating, you are already doing it. You are being an artist.”