Discussion with Fiona Candy

March 1, 2018 by Hollie Burge   Comments (0)

, , ,


Discussion with Fiona Candy

The meet-up with artist Fiona Candy started with a visit to a Fine Art student exhibition in PR1 gallery at the University, which was a great ice-breaker and talking point to start the interview. Here we discussed the works, and themes that are recently being explored within Fine Art, especially the presence of politically charged artworks.

After the exhibition, we went for a coffee, to start the interview – which turned into more of a discussion, which I feel we both benefited from. It is a useful experience to talk about your practice, as well as learn about another’s. As the student rep for the artists at UCLan, I was eager to learn more of Fiona’s work, and how an artist in the world outside of education is developing their practice.

Here’s an extract from our Q and A:

Q.1. from Hollie (HB):  I took a section of your artist statement from the AA2A website, where you mention working with “less conscious modes of perception”. What led you to explore these themes?

A. Fiona (FC): one way to explain is to tell you about a series of pieces that came about following a synchronistic encounter with a bountiful oak tree. For various reasons I was consciously looking for new directions and I had a hunch, that engaging with the phenomenon and metaphor of growth, would open up positive, intuitive responses.  I decided to collect and plant around 300 acorns, care for them over the winter months, and I undertook further research as topics arose. By spring 2016 I hade made a series of new pieces where the oak seedlings literally gave life to the works. 

I consider that my practice has transformed and I’ve been able to connect with a new network of like- minded people. So my hunch was a good one - as I’ve grown too.  

Here’s a link to see some initial outcomes of that project: http://www.fionacandy.uk/blog/?cat=11

Q.2. HB: The photographs of Morecambe Bay from the project Genius Loci are interesting, how did this project come about?

A. FC: I’ve always had an interest in environmental qualities that are sensed:  felt, heard, smelled - as well as seen, and how they impact on the psyche, memory and mood.  In these moments of awareness, I’m not sure where my experiences are located: are they emanating from within me, or are they out in the world?  This entanglement of perception and consciousness, interactivity of subject and object, intrigues and always raises questions for me, about how we perceive, make sense of and describe the world. In other parts of the world, India for instance, people may associate particular locations with protective deities, and signify these through the placement of shrines, altars and other objects. In classical Roman religion a ‘genius loci’ was the protective spirit of a place, to be revered and worshipped. Today our term ‘heritage’ seems to define a similar phenomenon: it’s a word we use to describe the multi-layered qualities and spirit of an area: its landscape, history and culture. A sense of place that is valued and respected.  In the Genius Loci work I’ve been aiming to ‘tap in’ to what makes places feel distinctive and special.

You can see more here on my blog: http://www.fionacandy.uk/blog/?p=1596

Q.3. HB: While looking at your work, I drew similarities of themes with artist Robert Smithson, how do other artists’ influences relate to your work? What are your influences?

A. FC:   That's a good question and a difficult one to answer, as I try not to be influenced in any direct or conscious way.  That's not to say I’m not influenced, as it’s impossible to avoid.  But when I look at other artists’ work, it’s generally as a means to liberate practical techniques and processes that I can re-purpose, and so connections can be rather tangential. There are many artists whose work I admire, far too many to be specific. Thank you for the mention of Robert Smithson. I was aware of ‘Spiral Jetty’, but hadn’t yet engaged with his work further. I’ve looked him up since our chat, and like what I’ve found. Perhaps there are similarities in our interest in the continually transforming relationships between humans and landscape. On the other hand, it’s an ancient, even eternal theme: something that can’t realistically be attributed to any one person, as ultimately it transcends us all as individuals.

Q.4.  HB: What do you hope to gain from the experiences of being on the AA2A scheme at UCLan? Do you have any plans for after the Scheme?

A. FC:  The AA2A scheme is a great way to engage with the art college ‘genius loci’- to allow its particular atmosphere and creative energy, to affect and direct me. I’ve already benefitted from fantastic input from Geoff Wilcock, the ceramics technician, at UClan. I love to learn about the traditions and stories held within craft and making. I don't expect to ever become a skilled ceramicist like Geoff, but I find having access to his particular and special way of knowing, very stimulating and helpful to bring abstract ideas into reality, in unexpected ways. I listen and observe, and experiment with the properties of materials, and allow this to morph and merge with the other topics I’m working with. I’m planning to use a corridor space in Victoria Building for a small exhibition in May, and this is acting as a deadline for getting some pieces to a more resolved or finished state. 

I think of creative practice as a way of being – as well as a profession. For me, it's a way to explore, try things out and learn. I think art practice can be as important as you want it to be

Q. 5. FC:

Hope its OK to turn the tables Hollie – while we’ve been chatting, you mentioned that you are applying for an MA for your next stage after graduating. Sounds exciting. I’m really interested to hear about your current aims for an opportunity to continue to Masters level. Do you already have ideas formulated about what you want to achieve? 

A. HB:

I have some ideas for the MA, after experimenting with different themes and materials during the BA(hons) at UCLan, I found that I would like to go back to making Zines, which I explored during my second year. I enjoyed the simplicity of collage making, photography on site and the finished product of a hand-made zine. I intend to continue with the themes of negative space, from which I have uploaded some images on the AA2A website:


I would like to explore the images further beyond zines too, possibly into larger installation pieces. I decided to apply for the MA to hone my practice further, before going into ‘the real world’. It also means I can carry on using the facilities at UCLan as well as the tutor’s advice, which is invaluable.

I’m still working out what will come after the MA, maybe I’ll be an artist on the AA2A too!