Wednesday, 2 December 2015

And a Few More!

'Chinese-Journey,' acrylic on board
Here are a few more paintings!
'China-Poem,' ink on rice paper, 35 x 61 cm
'Memory,' (2) acrylic on canvas, 29 x 19 cm

An Evolving Language

'Memory,' acrylic on canvas, 10 x 12 ins
I'm posting some new works, made in the last 3 weeks. I'm alternating between works on canvas and ink paintings, and have attempted working with colour on the rice paper. This has been an entirely new challenge as rice paper has a great absorbency and any kind of colour you lay on it tends to sink in and lose its intensity. As an artist who loves colour, this has pushed me to have to make instant and definite compositional decisions. 
'The Land of My Eternal Memories,' acrylic on board, 40 x 30 cm
Any elements you learn through one medium always seep into work you are doing in another medium, and I have found that very positive visual changes are appearing.
'China-Poem,' Chinese ink on rice paper, 35 x 33 cm
The trouble with laying colour on rice paper is that it tends to flood through to whatever is underneath the paper. Then it sticks! I laid some of the rice paper on plastic and some on newspaper. It took an hour to prise the 4 paintings off the newspaper and plastic, though the plastic was easier to remove the rice paper from. My Chinese watercolours were not strong enough (except for the black and dark blues) so I had to add some gouache. But the colour is never very strong and you can not layer it very much - first marks have to stand.
'China-Poem,' gouache and Chinese watercolour on rice paper, 35 x 65 cm
I like working this way because brushstrokes and their life-force and suggestiveness really interest me, and I relish the emerging image and its leads on to an imaginary world.
'China-Poem,' (2) Chinese watercolour and gouache on rice paper, 35 x 33 cm
I see these works as leading on to many new discoveries in my pursuit of this evolving language, and my need to bring to life my internal world.

Thursday, 5 November 2015


'Where My Dreams Go,' Chinese ink on rice paper
'Chinese Journey,' Chinese ink on rice paper

'Elemental,' Chinese ink on rice paper

'Onward and Upward,' Chinese ink on rice paper

I have had so little time to write recently, with new work being made and the exciting explorations of the Chinese ink on rice paper, so I am just going to post a few of the new ink paintings. And mention that I am in the process of applying for a painting residency in China!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

After China

The three weeks since the Beijing International Art Biennale opened and I walked around the huge halls has passed in a blur of activity. I spent quite a long time writing a report about the event, describing being an invited artist and how this has impacted on my painting, and the artwork from 96 countries. This will be published in THE JACKDAW in the November/December edition. 

'Where Thoughts Go,' ink on rice paper
'Chinese Journey,' ink on rice paper
'Where Thoughts Go,' (2) ink on rice paper

'Chinese Journey,' ink on rice paper

In between my writing I began to use the Chinese art materials I bought in Beijing. Working on rice paper has been a journey because it is quite different to watercolour paper. It absorbs liquid paint quite greedily and is quite thin, so it requires a different approach. I have been playing with combining the structural elements of my previous artwork with fluid brushstrokes - also a component I value highly. As a child I copied Chinese paintings from library books and in particular admired the economical brushstrokes that captured animals, landscapes and people. In these new works I am hoping to extend my work and how I approach oil on canvas. I have always been interested in the directness of brushstrokes and their inner life. 

So far I've painted 12 ink paintings. Each time my brush touches the paper, I learn something new about ways to force space and mood onto the paper with different kinds of lines, wet-in-wet shapes, pools of dark ink and intuitive mark-making. It has opened up a new world!

I didn't want to look at any other art until I was well into my series of ink paintings. I didn't want to taint my response to the freshness of my accumulated memories of China - I wanted them to flow out of the end of the brushes. What surprised me was that it was the landscape seen on the trip to the Great Wall of China that forced its elements into the paintings. I'd expected the city to find its way in but the landscape and its configurations have pushed new ways of rendering land forms into my work.

 I have still to sort through 1,450 photos and then I will post them on here and write more about the amazing experience of being in China.

Monday, 5 October 2015


Me outside the National Art Museum of China, 24th September
Me outside the National Art Museum of China, 24th September - for the Opening Ceremony

It is almost a week since I arrived back from China! I've been struggling with jet lag but finally feel I have adjusted, and now I'm sorting through my photos and thinking about the new work that this trip will have inspired in many ways. It still all feels as if it was a dream that I went to China.

To actually be INVITED to go there was such an honour! It was such a last minute rush to get my Chinese visa and then I left Tunbridge Wells train station on the morning of 22nd September, full of excitement and nerves (nerves for the long flights!) I was in a daze because I could not believe I was actually going. When I made my application for the Biennale last December I never thought it would result in this trip.

I flew to Charles De Gaulle airport - an incredibly large and modern airport - and had about 4 hours to wait there. I boarded the Air France aircraft at around 10.40pm (L.T) and we took off at 11.20pm. It is the longest flight I have ever done, being around 10 hours. But as dawn streaked the sky in the early morning, I found a vast tundra below, and it gradually became even wider and flatter. I followed the flight tracker with much interest, and then Beijing came onto view. I took many photos as we came in to land.

There is nothing to match the feelings of amazement that flood through you on realising you are now in a place that is very far from home and somewhere that you have never laid eyes on before! I went into the arrivals hall full of happiness and anticipation. Soon I saw at the far end there were people holding large pink BIAB signs, and one of them came forward to greet me. A group of artists had already gathered and I learned that there had been several collections of artists from the airport, and I also saw a 3 page list of artists - and it struck me that there must be around 200 invited artists, much more than I had expected. Artists wanted to take photos with me but the organisers wanted us to go out to the bus.

On the bus we were given our schedules for the next 4 days and also much needed bottles of water. My husband called me and it was strange to realise that it was only in the UK! As we wound our way through the increasingly tall and modern buildings of Beijing, I felt more relaxed. I had not really known what to expect but it was clear that we were going to be very well looked after.

Taking part in the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale was an experience that artists can only dream of. It felt as if 2 weeks were crammed into the 5 days I was there. I will write much more very soon because this event deserves a huge report!

(Above photo - a selfie during the Opening ceremony and speeches, at the National Art Museum of China)

Monday, 21 September 2015


'Excursion,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 45 cm

As I mentioned back in June, I had a painting accepted for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale, which opens at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing on September 24th - this week! The exhibition has work by artists from 100 countries and I feel very honoured to be included. I am one of five artists representing the UK. As far as I know, none of the others are going.

I received an invitation to go to Beijing from 23rd to 27th September, to be present at the Opening ceremony and also to be present during their symposium. Just today I collected my visa from the Chinese Visa Application Centre and tomorrow I will be flying to Beijing in the afternoon. I still can't believe it. Nerves for the flight - I hate flying - are mingled with excitement at seeing Beijing and seeing the marvellous artworks that will be on show. I also hope to meet up with some of the other artists, and the symposium should be very interesting. Possibly this will influence my painting in a very big way. Certainly it is going to widen my ideas about art in general. I'm taking a small book to make some quick paintings of my impressions, in case anything resonates with me for future paintings. Though I may not have time to do this!

My next entry will be on my return next week.

Friday, 11 September 2015

My Artist friend, VP Vasuhan

'Amma,' pencil, acrylic and charcoal on canvas
I first met Vasuhan in Cyprus in 1997. Our mutual friend, the brilliant abstract artist Glyn Hughes, had arranged a painting project at the Melina Mercouri Hall in Nicosia. It was to be part of the French Cultural Week then taking part in the city, and Glyn picked 6 Nicosia artists to make copies of famous paintings by artists such as Cezanne, Bonnard, Kandinsky, and Leger, to name a few. We were each given 2 huge canvases, roughly 8 foot high by 12 foot long, and we had only a week to paint copies of our chosen paintings onto these. I painted one of my favourite paintings, Cezanne's large 'Bathers,' and one of Bonnard's 'Wife in the  Bath,' series. I remember spending a lot of time at night in the large hall, working on my canvases, with Glyn nearby supervising our efforts and handing out enormous tubes of acrylic paint and big brushes (some of which I kept). We only had a week to complete all 12 enormous canvases, which meant quite a few hours' work day and night. I have many lovely memories of working on my canvases and watching my artist friends working on theirs, and the energies that filled the hall were incredible. It is something I will never forget, and I would love the chance to work that large again.

It was here one evening I met Vasuhan, who had begun work on a large abstract Kandinsky. Glyn suggested we work on it together as time was running out, and it was a great pleasure to paint with Vasuhan and to see how he interpreted Kandinsky's abstracted brushstrokes and colours. We both enjoyed the process of working on a large canvas together, and seeing the different ways we each approached Kandinsky's complicated painting .

Vasuhan also painted 2 large canvases on his own. They were:
Georges Braque, 'Bathing Woman,' (1907-08)
Yves Klein, 'Anthropometry of the Blue Period,' 1960.

I have lovely memories of painting in the hall with all the artists, all of us working in a frenzy with increasing worries that we would not finish on time! There was a well attended opening night for our exhibition, which was opened by the President's wife, and our show looked fantastic. (There is even a photo of Glyn, me, Vasu and Mrs Vassiliou up on the stage at the opening, with my large Cezanne 'Bathers' behind us, in Glyn Hughes' book 'GLYN HUGHES.') It formed the backdrop for a series of lectures.
'Who are You?' mixed media on canvas

Vasuhan was working as an assistant to Glyn Hughes and I would see him often when I went to Glyn's house. Vasu was also painting and I liked his paintings a lot. 

Vasuhan moved to Paris not long after and Glyn often spoke to me about how well he was doing as an artist in Paris. I think that Paris must be one of the best cities in the world to be an artist and we both admired him for moving there to follow his career.
Glyn at one of Vasuhan's exhibitions in Paris - (Glyn on the left, Vasu next to him on the right)
Though I have not met up with Vasu since he left Cyprus, I have kept in touch with him and his career through Glyn Hughes, who sadly died last year. We also connected on Facebook and I have been following his work with much interest. 
'Dances with Rat.'

Vasuhan was born in Sri Lanka and spent part of his childhood in Columbo. He moved to Cyprus years later and finished his studies at the Center of Higher Studies in Nicosia. His website is:

Do check it out! I like the variety of his themes and different styles. His wonderful compositions, whether abstract or figure-based, are very personal and evocative.
'Sonat,' acrylic on canvas

I'm hoping that next year we may both exhibit together in Paris. I think our works would look good together. We have both been influenced by our long association with Glyn Hughes so in a way it would be a tribute to him too. He was such a master painter and we were very lucky to see him work and undoubtedly absorbed many things from him! 

We have since tried to find out what happened to those 12 large canvases, after the exhibition was taken down. They seemed to have disappeared! We both hope that they are somewhere being looked after.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

High Summer

'High Summer,' acrylic on board, 70 x 60 cm

This year I haven't been away on a summer holiday. Lots of things got in the way, most of all getting my painting ready to go off to Beijing for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale (opens at the end of September). Then painting just took over! There has been a lot of change in my work and re-painting of older work. Several themes have been continued - my 'Inscapes' series, the landscapes - and some new ones, 'Migrants' being one of them.

The above picture shows the most recent 'Migrants' painting (70 x 50cm, oil on canvas). It was an old painting that was reworked quite intensely. I saw it as a metaphor for migration and the paint itself is migrating through shapes and colours which are repeated across the painting. It also reflects my thoughts as they responded to paint, as a kind of parallel for the migration of ideas. It was not painted as a commentary for migration, though that is in the News a lot right now.

This was a theme I started about 2 years ago, with a large painting of tents (inspired by the troubles in Cairo at the time) which I have posted below, called WE ARE ALL NOMADS, (oil on canvas, 120 x 90 cm). I have always had an interest in the passages people follow through life and how random events can throw a life out of balance.

Friday, 24 July 2015

New Work

'Interlude,' acrylic on board, 91 x 61cm

'Fiona's-World,' acrylic on board, 60 x 31cm

I have painted quite a few new works this year - here is a small selection of some of them.
'Paint-Poem,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30cm

I will post more tomorrow.


Fiona with the painting, ready to start packing
After all the work, and getting an MDF box made at huge cost, my painting which was selected for the Beijing 6th International Art Biennale was finally collected by the shipping company on July 13th! (This date is always etched into my memory as it was the anniversary of the death of my late partner, Tom, who died in 1998.)

First, a layer of tissue paper

It ended up taking nearly 2 hours to pack. My husband, who is very good about these things, did most of it. We put a layer of tissue paper, 2 layers of bubble-wrap, then he made bubble-wrap cushions around the edges so that the painting sat snugly inside the box.

I had to stick labels on each side of the box, then screwed it shut. We did all this the night before the collection! Then the shipping company turned up at around 5pm on the 13th and I watched the man carry this large and heavy box (27 kilos, 108 x 80 cms) out to the large white van. I could see the boxed-up works by the other 4 UK chosen artists sitting in the back of that van. That was the moment it all became real! I went back inside my flat and had a large glass of white wine.

My painting should reach Beijing by around the end of August. I still can't believe that I was selected. There are works from 100 countries and there will be a huge colour catalogue. I still don't know if I can go. I would love to but it depends on whether my thesis (submitted near the end of June) is considered good enough to send me an official invitation as a guest for the symposium, which would mean my expenses in Beijing would be paid. I really enjoyed writing the thesis ('The Chinese Dream and its International Ripples') as I addressed some issues around the cross-pollination of art between countries and between artists, and had a number of points to discuss at the symposium. I would dearly love to attend as it would be so interesting to hear the discussion.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Chaotic Days!

'Event,' acrylic on board, 60 x 40cm
These last two weeks I have not had time to paint, only to draw, because I am currently writing a thesis for submission to the Beijing International Art Biennale for their symposium. It has been very enjoyable to write and I am emailing it later today - hoping it is considered suitable! I have also taken my painting for framing, never an easy job for me as I am not especially good at choosing frames - and in this case it has to be a very secure frame for shipping to Beijing. Usually I like my work on canvas to be box-framed so that none of the edges are lost but the painting I have had selected is on board so it was necessary to find a frame that doesn't eat up too much of the edges.

I have also been doing a lot of applications for exhibitions and events, and collating all the materials for the Biennale and sending them. In between that, some gardening for relaxation! 

Today at last I am preparing new panels to paint on and plan to start new work tomorrow.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Great News!

'Paphos Lighthouse Remembered,' oil and acrylic on board, 91 x 61cm

On Wednesday morning I heard the post drop through the letterbox and ran to see what ghastly bills etc may have arrived. I saw an unusually large white envelope on the carpet, covered in chinese lettering and with some kind of official stamps. I thought it must be a mistake but then I saw on the outside 'The 6th Beijing International Art Biennale.' THEN I realised that it was a reply to my submission back in December; I assumed it was a polite rejection and to my amazement I read that I have had a painting accepted for this wonderful exhibition in Beijing in the Autumn! The painting above is the one they accepted, which was my favourite of the 6 I submitted (via huge photos). Two days on, I am still beyond words!

It was quite a lengthy submission process and one to be done with much care, and when I posted the package on December 6th I had a feeling the Christmas post would delay it from arriving by the deadline of December 24th. I did not think much about it again!

The theme of the exhibition is DREAM AND MEMORY, a wonderful and very appropriate theme for my work! My painting has to be packed and will be shipped via a shipping company. I am hoping to go over to Beijing for the Opening. I am submitting a speech/dissertation outline in case I might get invited to the Symposium, which is something I would love to take part in - I'm sure many artists will be submitting these so it has to be extra good and I have already started writing it.

The letter of acceptance is a thing of beauty and something I will keep forever. I am very impressed by past catalogues (works of art in themselves) - the range of art acceptable is very wide and there are no 'Western' modes of vision when it goes to selecting work. (Time and time again here it is the same type of work that gets in, the same kinds of abstract or figurative, never anything that steps outside). After having read a lot of information on their website, I have much admiration for their aims and for their view of art as having a very high importance for both man and the world. More soon.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Doorways into Magic (part one)

'Tom's Midnight Garden,' (2) acrylic on board, 60 x 40cm

How does an artist find a doorway into their particular world when painting? Having spoken to many artists and friends, it became obvious that each of us has our own special entrance point. For me, painting is a form of magic and if I work with it passionately and with attention, I can catch some of that magic and give it form on canvas. I love the material quality of paint and like to explore that line between references to the world around and my inner images - the kind of pictures that stories threw into my mind as a child.
'Tom's Midnight Garden,' oil and acrylic on board, 60 x 50cm

One of my latest series of paintings is based on images associated with a favourite childhood book, 'Tom's Midnight Garden.' Though I did not seek to illustrate this theme, I have explored elements the title suggested to me as a child and let the paint evolve them into a parallel for my internal visualisations. I like to work in this way. A word or title can be the springboard for a painting and I will do a lot of drawings to get some ideas down, then that language and sets of forms filter through into the paintings. But I always like to be surprised and spontaneous, and to let the painting suggest elements and lead me into a new place.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Inner and Outer worlds

'Somewhere Else,' oil and acrylic on board, 40 x 50cm

With spring in full flow, I am making a lot of paintings on paper, just to respond to the wonderful energies and colours while experimenting with different types of mark-making; brush, crayon, felt-tip, pencil, etc.
'Rhythms,' wax crayon, felt-tip, watercolour and gouache on paper
'Inscape,' watercolour and felt-tip on paper

It's always a case of layering my inner world with my reactions to the world around me, and finding an image that captures these feelings.
'Remembered,' watercolour, gouache and felt-tip on paper

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easter Break

Fiona and 'Arrowheads in Lemba Valley,' (Cyprus series) acrylic on wooden panel, 162 x 108cm

As I go into the Easter break, I have 4 paintings waiting for answers, including my largest one. Back to work on Tuesday!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Already Into March

The Dome, Brighton
The Big Heart auction exhibition at the Dome, Brighton

'Rising Light,' oil and acrylic on board, 30 x 40cm
Normally I hate these winter months but the first part of this year has been so busy that I have not really had time to notice anything! The Big Heart auction at the Dome in Brighton took place on March 3rd. It was a really good exhibition of 200 donated artworks and I was pleased to have a painting in the show. Later I heard that everything sold and the charity raised around £30,000.
Brighton Pavilion
'An Unveiling,' oil and acrylic on board, 20 x 30cm

Since then, I have made quite a few new paintings, going in some new directions. I've also sent out more applications for exhibitions and now I'm playing the waiting game! But as Spring leaves its trails across the landscape, I always feel my energies rising, and I find this one of my most creative times of the year.