Saturday, 30 May 2020

“UNESCO and MEADOWS artists against COVID-19”. An Online Exhibition, May 29th 2020

To give an idea about this exhibition I'm sharing a quote from the UNESCO website:

UNESCO Beirut Office partnered with MEADOWS (Mediterranean Endeavors Advancing Development Of Widespread Sustainability) NGO to reach out to artists worldwide and invite them to take the challenge to use visual arts as a powerful tool effecting relevant global issues through the intercultural dialogue. The concept created by Lena Kelekian, MEADOWS’  President and Founder, led to initiating the MASK ART creativity under lockdown with the patronage of UNESCO Beirut Office, under the topic of “UNESCO and MEADOWS artists against COVID-19”

250 Artists from 120 countries placed their artwork on a mask template and the result on the website is a stunning and diverse array of beautiful masks. It creates a positive image of mask wearing and I feel it represents taking some control over what is a really hard and tragic time in our existence. Here are some more masks...

Here is another description of the project taken from the UNESCO website which describes it better than I could:

'In these stricken times, while mitigating technical and slow internet problems, difficulties of social distancing and lockdown, communication was established with all the regional & national representatives, mobilizing every volunteer resource to transform the medical masks that instilled fear, such as stark reminders of the imminent danger of infection, into canvasses displaying strong creations of artists and their personal reaction to this pandemic crisis. The responses were highly creative. In some cases, we can find gloomy and morbid expressions of fear of the unknown but mostly they are expressions of hope and desire of a better and different tomorrow. Inside the short three weeks deadline – instead of the needed three months -, UNESCO Beirut and MEADOWS went through the process of selection albeit the language barriers and cultural differences, finding the common denominators of resilience between artists from all over continents.'

And the link - scroll down to see the many artworks:

ART SAVES HUMANITY: My Work Is In Top 100 Artworks Of This International Virtual Exhibition

'Walking Towards a Shared Future,' acrylic and oil on canvas, 120 x 160 cm 2018

I submitted 2 paintings to this global online exhibition organised by the SeeMe team, as it says below:

'We asked artists to share their perspective on the human condition...

Art Saves Humanity will be a global virtual exhibition bringing together the SeeMe community, Sotheby's Institute and its global network, Community Access to the Arts, the and artists from all over the world with other corporate sponsors.'

(quoted from their website)

The judges were Brendan Clecko, Christine Kuan, Marine Tanguy, Poppy Simpson, Ariel Adkins, Jerry Saltz and the Sotheby's team.

The theme was to be about hope and reflection during the pandemic.

While I did receive 2 emails informing me of the results of my 2 submissions, I had not during an exceptionally busy week opened them! So when the exhibition opened online on May 21st I went to see which paintings were in the Top 100 selected artists and as I scrolled along I came across my painting (above)! To have made the Top 100 was amazing! There was also a link to my website.

So then I opened the 2 emails. I found that both my paintings had been put in the top 100 but only one is shown. This is the other one.

'A Global Connection,' oil on canvas, 100 x 140 cm

The other wonderful thing to find out was that I'd won a signed copy of the new book by Jerry Saltz called How to be an Artist.  He was one of the judges. I'm really pleased about this!

Most of the time as an artist you work alone and there's very little to guide you through a vast terrain of bumps and unlit territory so it's nice to get some positive feedback.

This is the link to the website:

(Scrolling along to the right or left brings up my art.)

Friday, 29 May 2020

Fiona Stanbury's Interview Featured in Art Habens Magazine, April 2020

'Night Gathering,' (3) acrylic on canvas, 20 x 25 cm

Recently I completed an interview for the international online art magazine, Art Habens. The questions they sent me were really insightful and interesting to answer and caused me much reflection. I ended up with 35 pages of text and images, one of the longest interviews published! I'm planning to print it up as a small catalogue.

This is the Link:

And an image from the opening page of the magazine....

In the last few weeks I've been more busy than ever. Firstly, finishing 2 paintings for an exhibition in China later this year which I was invited to submit work to as a participant of the 8th Beijing International Art Biennale in August 2019. At that time 30 artists were taken into the landscape around Beijing and we made sketches which have been the inspiration for the artwork.

This is one of the paintings I made.

'Waterfalls of Colour,' acrylic on canvas, 85 x 65 cm

Since I last wrote I've been continuing with my Lockdown series which began during the 30 Works 30 Days global art project in April, mentioned previously. This forced me to use new materials as due to the pandemic my delivery of materials was delayed and has generated an ongoing series of mixed media works along with works on canvas. One of the new themes is based on night gatherings or what I have viewed sadly as a lack of night gatherings. The only time I feel a sense of community on the street where I live is when we all go out at 8pm on a Thursday evening to clap the NHS and carers and keyworkers. So the painting I'm posting today is one of my series remembering the life I used to see on the streets at night and the buzz of social interactions. This is one of an ongoing series.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

30 Works 30 Days: End of an Artist Project Followed During Lockdown

'Where My Thoughts Wander,' acrylic, ink, pen, papers and gesso on card, 30 x 20 cm

This global project which had over 1000 artists from 42 countries ended on April 30th. You had to submit an artwork each day during April, and 5 or 6 artists were selected each day to have their works shown on the 12ocollective Instagram pages. The 12ocollective website ended up with over 18,000 artworks and I believe everyone completed this challenge for lockdown.

I had the following painting, made on DAY 21, displayed on the 12ocollective Instagram post for that day. I was really pleased to be chosen in amongst so many entries each day! This little painting was painted as a longing for street gatherings at night. My neighbourhood seems so quiet these days and the only time I become aware of any kind of community is when everyone comes out on a Thursday evening at 8pm to clap for the NHS, carers and keyworkers.

'Night Gathering,' acrylic and ink on card, 30 x 20 cm

As I mentioned in a previous post, my art materials were delayed in arriving and I was forced to use cardboard and card to make my paintings and collages. It turned out to be a positive restriction because it opened up a different way of working and seeing painting elements. I made a very large series of collages, in fact the mixed media works took over towards the end of the challenge. For this short post I'm including a few of the collages. I found working with mixed materials beneficial because limitations always force you to find new ways to assemble an image, and in particular I was thinking about edges, transitions between colours, brush strokes and patterns. This will now feed back into the large paintings on canvas.

'Mountain Route,' (3) acrylic, ink, gesso, papers on card, 30 x 20 cm

'Entering a New Land,' acrylic, rice paper, ink and gesso on card, 30 x 20 cm

''Wishing to Travel Far,' acrylic, rice paper, ink and gesso on card, 30 x 20 cm
More works will follow later this week or they can be seen on my artist website, the link is at the top right side of the blog page.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

30 works 30 days: A Painting Every Day During April: Hope

'Landscape Reverie,' ink, acrylic and gesso on cardboard, 42 x 24 cm

In my previous post I mentioned lethargy. I have noticed that during this time of coronavirus it seems quite common and manifests itself in many ways. I have friends who simply can't paint at this time. There's no right or wrong way to deal with the deadly situation and constantly worsening news, and personally I find distraction in trying to extend my art practice each day. It helps me feel connected with the world by exploring my inner world, and colour always uplifts me. There may be external restrictions but my inner landscapes run free.

I'm posting a few of the recent paintings made this last week and which have been loaded to the thirty works website. I don't want to slacken because if you miss a day you are out! I'm not following the briefs, I'm using the challenge to create ideas for new work which I will start as soon as my new materials come though I don't know when they will be delivered. However, there is something to be gained by working on unusual materials such as cardboard. They make you re-think your process and of course working speedily brings its own insights whether they are recognising new territory or falling short of one's intention.

'Spring Marching Across Winter,' ink, gesso and acrylic on cardboard, 42 x 24 cm

These 3 on cardboard are suggesting ways I could work with oil paint on canvas. I'm quite excited because through doing this project I've cut some corners and found several new forms and ways of applying paint. 

'Spring Marching Across Winter' was inspired by my daily walks when I noticed the greys, browns and warm neutral colours of winter being gradually invaded by fresh, vibrant greens and the luscious colours of flowers. 'Invasion' is about the way that the structures and meanings we hold as permanent in our lives can be turned upside down in a moment. I liked the immediacy of these 3 paintings but may layer oil paint on future canvases while trying to keep to the spirit of these mixed media works.

'Invasion,' gesso, ink and acrylic on cardboard, 42 x 24 cm

My favourite is the first one because I feel it is more complete though the other 2 have prompts that can be extended when I work on canvas. It's such a good project because it generates energy and a sense of a positive link with the future. Working gives me a more balanced way to think about the current situation and gives me hope.

New Paintings and Keeping to Art Deadlines During Coronavirus

'A Global Connection,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 100 x 140 cm

During this exceptionally difficult and challenging time when our daily routines are drastically altered, I'm trying to keep a focus on my artwork and to stick to my deadlines. It's not easy because at times I lapse into a lethargy and become anxious. Then the 'What If?' keeps me awake at night. Last night neither my husband or I could sleep fully and at 6.30am we ended up eating some trifle!

Any minor feeling of illness sends your mind racing: Is this coronavirus? I've suffered from a really bad flu (6 weeks ago) that then went in to my ear and I had to have antibiotics, and any twinge of pain or health abnormality now instantly brings to mind 'Do I need to self-isolate?' Luckily, both my husband and I are coping and keeping our distance from people but it's hard because you have to keep alert to all the things you now can not do.

However, I was really pleased this week because in between doing the daily 30 works 30 days art challenge, I managed to finish a painting for a Biennale in China later this year. I only stretched my canvas in the second week of March, and it's a big one - 100 x 140 cm - and I never thought I'd get it finished and submitted by the deadline of April 15th! The last stages of this painting were really hard and even now I have to remind myself to stop finding things I could have tweaked. 

The theme of the Biennale was Home and Co-existence, and my idea was to paint a home situation in which people are reading newspapers each with a different current topic on the front. So there are the themes of nature, the world, relationships, and home. I've included animals, water, fruit, a teapot, homes, and a butterfly which is symbolic of the sharing of thoughts. The people are linked by the red chairs. 

My thought was that people co-exist, wherever they are, through this daily ritual and sharing of thoughts on current issues. I really enjoyed painting those newspaper fronts and the theme of newspaper readers stretches back to my time living in Cyprus when this was an ongoing series of oil paintings. I have extended the theme in this new painting not only in terms of the shapes and paint application but through the way I've depicted the abstracted forms on the newspapers. None of it was foreplanned; I always let the painting guide me.

I submitted the work about a week ago to an online form. It was actually very difficult to follow the instructions and took some time but I feel a sense of achievement that it's finally submitted. I hope it will be accepted!

This week I've been making a small painting every day for the daily challenge. I'm going to post some of them next. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

30 Works 30 Days Challenge, Pushing My Limits

'Paint Poem' (series) oil and acrylic on canvas 22 x 25 cm

I chose to take part in a 30 day painting challenge which has been organised by 12ocollective. We signed up to make 30 works across 30 days which I'm using as a tool to push through new ideas by trying out some different processes. If you fail to submit by midnight each day you are out of the challenge!

I work part time at the moment so fitting in this challenge along with work and making other artworks is stretching my day but I'm determined to finish. It helps also to take my mind off the worsening news about the coronavirus pandemic.

The first painting, on DAY ONE, is a small oil painting which I worked to a time limit. Since that first day I've been working with different mixed media, combining acrylic and ink on gesso on cardboard and rice paper layered on cardboard, with ink and acrylic. My main materials, stretchers to make canvases, will not arrive for a while so I'm having to work with whatever is around.

For this post I'm including a few of the paintings I've made so far. We are currently on DAY SEVEN. 

'Paint Poem,' (series) 22 x 27 cm, gesso, ink and acrylic on cardboard

'Social Distancing in the Park,' gesso, ink and acrylic on cardboard, 30 x 28 cm

'Paths in the Park,' acrylic and gesso on cardboard, 28 x 26 cm

More will follow!