UNIVERSE HAS GOT A BIGGER PLAN FOR US - FIONA MARRON
Updated: Aug 12, 2018
A couple of Saturdays ago, I was visiting a few galleries for my 'Weekend Wonders' series. When I got to the first gallery on my list, which was Fitzrovia Gallery, a lovely lady greeted me. As we started talking, I realised, that she was the artist, whose solo show it was! Our conversation (over a lovely peppermint tea) quickly turned into an unexpected interview about Fiona's work and life and I am very happy to be able to share it with you!
Fiona Marron is an established artist, based in Clane, Ireland. I had a pleasure meeting Fiona in April in Fitzrovia Gallery, where she had her solo show titled The Nature of Things (Landscape Under the Influence)
Fiona, can you please tell me about your work and this exhibition?
My work is inspired by nature and influence of the climate change. When I work as a painter, as an artist I work in situ. I love to go out into the landscape and sketch and draw, in all weathers. When I was a little girl my mother used to say: ‘God, what are you doing? It is raining out there!’
I would always say: ‘I want to see it in the rain!’
That is what the art is all about – it is about observing and really seeing. This is what my work is about - seeing the changes in places that I love. There has been so much flooding, so much wind damage; the extreme weather is constantly changing nature around us. This change is the most significant to my work. I’m not making pronouncements or statements, I don’t want to be preachy, but it is about the energy of the climate change, and how nature is affected by it.
Do you paint out in nature as well?
I take little sketches and photographs. Then I come back to my studio, and I start to play with that, exaggerate it, make it bigger, and zoom in into some little aspects. Find something that captivates me; find the motive that becomes important for me.
There is another way of seeing, don’t limit your self
You mentioned the Tibetan handmade paper that you are working with. Can you tell me more about it?
I lived in America for fourteen years, from the mid-80s to the mid-90s and it was the time when China and Tibet had an ongoing conflict. While I was there, myself and other artists set up a Tibetan refugee fund. As we were involved in the fund we went to Nepal and helped set up a papermaking industry for women. They taught local women how to make paper. This is the paper that was made there. The texture of it is so beautiful.
Somewhere along the line, I lost faith in myself and faith in the universe. But you have to trust that universe unfolding, as it should!
I used Tibetan paper for this piece here. I call it 'The Rebirth Song'. It is like a rebirth song for me too. As a woman, as a mother, as a painter, I’m doing something for myself for the first time in a long time. I have two sons who have taken me away from myself as a painter. When I ask myself: 'who am I, what am I?' I sometimes say, 'I’m a mother and a painter, I'm a painter and a mother.' These roles overlap.
I had a child who's got into trouble with addiction and this took out a big chunk of my life. I didn’t get to do a thing for myself. So, this is my rebirth song.
A lot of people think it is different from everything else, but I don’t think it is removed too far from other paintings. It is monochromatic and doesn't have a colour, but you can definitely see the similarity with my other work.
Have you ever tried any other forms of art?
Yes, I was going through some hard times with my son, he attempted to take his own life on several occasions. At that time, I couldn’t paint, so I ended up wrapping my easel up and tying it with a rope, that was exactly how I felt - tide up.
At the same time, my younger son was going through anger issues because of that. Things were getting smashed in the house - televisions, laptops. They were put outside and I started photographing the cracks and the smashings. Then winter came and it was snowing, so I started photographing the same things again. I started documenting it. It was like me - everything was destroyed. I was been destroyed. I didn’t know it would be a project. But it became a project.
Suddenly my camera became my tool.
At some point, I started working with the rope. I have two studios in Clane. One is where I teach; it also has a gallery for appointments. It is a very public one. But I have another one – a private one. It is an old Irish cottage, that’s been renovated. It is over two hundred years old. It has an apex roof and one day I threw the rope up into the roof, and it all tangled and I started drawing with the rope. The wired thing was that the rope hoops looked like nooses. It was so related to my son's troubles. It was a very private and personal work. I couldn’t tell anybody about it, but I documented everything. After that, I started making glass drawings because he started cutting himself.
In the end, I did this big project and I got funding from the Arts Council in Ireland to take it to Berlin.
I went to Berlin to show it to some galleries. It became an installation: it was photography, paintings and drawings.
The most powerful part of this project was ash drawings. In therapy, I had to show his letters, because we saw so many therapists I had to photocopy them all the time. I had so many of them and one day I got them all out, and I burnt them. When ash cooled down, I stuck my finger in it and I started making ash drawings. Someone wanted to exhibit these drawings, but at the time I wasn’t ready to show them.
Sometimes as an artist, you don’t know what you doing, or what it is going to become
All these incredible things happened, and that was the journey I went on. I am so glad I did it and someday I might exhibit it. I imagine it been in a big industrial space. I believe there is a beauty in destroyed things and out of destroyed things regrowth happens. We are all on a journey, on a cycle. That’s why 'The Rebirth Song' is how it is. It is all connected.
I suppose to answer your question – yes, I have delved into other forms of art.
Have you been an artist your whole life?
Yes – I guess so. On my opening night, I have been asked to give a speech and I ended up telling the story that my mother told me, which I never knew until I was in my thirties.
I had a show at Hunt Museum in Ireland and I was asked to give a talk about abstract art. I thought I can't give a talk on abstract art, I don’t know anything about abstract art. Then I thought: 'Hang on a minute, I do a bit of abstract art! So, I will talk about me and I will tell them my story.'
When I was trying to tell my story, I didn’t know what my story was.
So, I asked my mother what my story was and when did I start painting. She said: 'Oh, darling! You have always been painting and drawing. You didn’t write an essay or do anything at school until you were nine or ten. You drew pictures instead!' I didn’t know that!
I remember when I discovered there were art colleges all I wanted to do was to go there. However, my parents would not let me. Until my music teacher said, you have to let her go, she has a talent.
The arts, the creativity unites us all more than anything else!
You can see more of Fiona's work here