Who is Fiona?
My family are Scottish and I have lived in Scotland most of my life, but was born in Newfoundland and later lived in Rhode Island, USA then London UK - I can be Canadian, American , Scottish or English depending on who I’m talking to. I studied Biological Sciences at Leicester University then edited medical journals for several years. I studied printmaking at the Glasgow Print Studio.
As an artist, what are your favorite ways to express yourself?
Etching, digital artwork, collage, photography, short films and land art.
What are you moved to express in your writing, art, photography the most?
Just the everyday ordinary stuff maybe seen in a slightly different way or slightly rearranged. Some Japanese influences, I initially studied Biological Sciences, probably for visual reasons in retrospect, but science still fascinates me- mathematics, the patterns in nature,
What is your creative process ?
Difficult to describe…..I just go with the flow, but I often make use of what is immediately around me.. Photography used to be a means to an end for use in painting and printmaking, but is now very important to me. – The immediacy of digital photography (particularly the LCD monitor on the back of the camera) and Photoshop changed the way I work and see things.
In the lovely Taiwanese film “A one and a Two” - the 8-yr-old boy says to his dad
“I can't see what you see and you can't see what I see, so how can I know what you see?" His father gives him a camera and he starts to photograph ceilings, doorways and the backs of people's heads…to show people what they don’t/won’t/can’t see
So ultimately I’m trying to get people to see things the way I see them or things they don’t see or notice…The beauty of the ordinary mundane, overlooked. Chance and circumstance play a large role in what I photograph and paint – a lot of these things that I play with are immediately available- sticks, stones, bits of paper, ephemera -I just rearrange the pieces to draw attention to it.. But I also try to leave a bit of space for the viewer to make it their own. On a typical day I will photograph stuff in the morning before going into the studio
How do handle an interruption in the flow of imagination or writer's block?
My problem is always too many ideas, but if I’m having trouble getting started on a new etching plate, I’ll tackle something simple like just printing, mixing inks, sorting out paper etc. It’s very easy to disappear down a black hole on the computer whether it’s making art or just answering e-mails, etc. so it’s important to walk away from that virtual world and look at the real world.
I work in the Glasgow Print Studio with many other artists, so distracting them from working is always entertaining. Just the act of going into the studio and seeing other artists working will usually spur me into action. If that doesn’t work then it’s trashy magazines, chocolate, ironing and kittens on youtube
What brings you joy, contentment, happiness?
Ideas floating in out of the blue, working with other artists, gatherings of friends and family with good food and music, a new song, sunny skies, something from nothing, humor
What does the words 'yes' and 'possibility' mean to you personally?
Thinking positively is definitely important to me as a philosophy for living, but the concepts of yes and no are equally important artistically.. it’s a yin/yang thing- two sides of the same coin- establishing a balance is important.. Working digitally there are so many possibilities that can be executed so very quickly it’s very easy to get completely overwhelmed so rejecting ideas even on a whim is a very important part of the process. I can work for hours sometimes days on an image and then some gut feeling just makes me press delete/don’t save . It’s so important to walk away from that screen , to go outside, and look at the clouds
What holds you back?
Family commitments usually. The actual process of etching is quite time consuming, messy, smelly, etc. so it brings me down to earth and slows me down in a good way- There is something very visceral about making a mark on an etching plate, paper or canvas - it is the perfect antidote to too much digital computer work and photography. I love the way the internet has changed the way artists, musicians etc work and communicate, but it can also be a big time waster creatively. I came across a quote from a Balzac novel - "A world in which the superfluous is indispensable." I’m still thinking about that one .
Who are your creative role models? What books, art, music inspire and ignite you?
Music is very important to me, but I constantly have to have new music. Radio Paradise is my best source of new music. Today I’m listening to .....
Women artists are always an inspiration to me - I know how difficult it is to make art and remember to do the laundry, shopping, etc..Jenny Saville , Georgia O’Keefe, Julia Cameron, Mary Newcomb, Swoon,. As a child, Andrew Wyeth and Andy Warhol fascinated me.
What do you give yourself unconditionally in life to?
Where has love taken you?
Glasgow, Scotland. Glasgow can be quite a rough hard city, but is vibrant with a very creative edge and is full of creative musicians, artists, scientists,
If there were absolutely no obstacles whatsoever what would you do tomorrow?
I’d still be an artist, but maybe in a slightly warmer climate. Oh, and I’d also be in a rock and roll band
What is on your wish list?
A proper garden (I live in a city flat)
What is on your mood board?
It’s a moody table… .things drifts in and out like the tide, flotsam and jetsam. Nothing stays on it for very long.
Where is your creative space/corner of the world?
Where water and land meet-, bookshops (rapidly disappearing). Most of my assemblage photography is done on a table near a window- no fancy camera (Panasonic Lumix point and shoot), lighting or studio. And staring at my computer screen where ideas gathered from coincidence just float in.
Can you tell us about your first 'artistic awakening' ?
I don’t remember… I’ve always, made stuff, painted etc. Painting on old scraps of paper my father would bring home for me to draw on
What do you like to look at?
Everything…. sea, sky, graffiti, puddles, rubbish, old paint on walls,
Is making mistakes fun/useful?
Yes, especially in the etching process.
Where do your titles come from?
Thin air, snippets of conversation, billboards, lines from songs, random newspaper headlines, the superficial, the glib, the flippant, out of thin air, things misread or misheard,
Do you have a clear idea I your head before you start painting?
No..it slowly evolves.
What does making art feel like?
Like electricity running thru your body, a shiver down your spine
Anything you need to get off your chest?
I swear a lot.
What are your feelings about rust?
I prefer moss
Famous last words?
Question everything (a legacy from my scientific training)
Remember that slogan “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” ? I still love that
Surround yourself with inspirational people
Graciousness and humility equal beauty
Keep your sense of humor