A conversation with Fiona Grady. When light activates art.

Fiona Grady (born 1984, Leeds) is an abstract artist whose practice recognises the relationship between architecture, installation art, and decoration. She plays with light, surface, and scale; often using traditional mediums in a modern context. Her geometrical pieces work as atmospheric printed stained glasses that change with the light of day emphasising the passing of time and the ephemeral nature of the work itself.

The concepts of repetition-discontinuity or inside-outside work here altogether by creating systems, apparently static, that interact with their surroundings as if they were alive. Is in the process of reflection when the light enters through the windows and touches the skins inside the room- walls and bodies-, the moment the artwork becomes unlimited.

Grady studied BA Fine Art at the University of Wales in Cardiff before completing a Masters degree in Fine Art at Wimbledon School of Art (UAL). Grady has been short-listed for several printmaking prizes including Neo-print Prize 2014, Bainbridge Open 2012, and Clifford Chance’s Survey of MA printmaking 2011. She currently lives and works in London.

Image courtesy of The Art House, Wakefield and Axis

Could you describe your artistic process?

I create large site-responsive drawings on walls, windows, and floors using sequences of dispersing geometric shapes. The drawings are spatial systems composed from repeating intervals that expand in proportion or direction. The use of repetition is a means to set in place an unconscious balance or understanding that can be interrupted by the introduction of a changeable factor.

What kind of feelings, ideas, or emotions do you wish to communicate with your artworks?

My work is site-responsive; when I approach a new installation I consider the function of the site, it’s architectural features and the purpose of the project. I aim to create pieces that have motion within a space, either through the movement of the shapes I introduce, or the interaction with outside factors such as daylight. I don’t seek to tell the viewers how to feel, but I purposefully choose colour palettes that respond to the loudness or quietness of their venue.

Repetition occurs in my motifs and placement. I use geometric shapes as they have rules attached to their forms, by using them repeatedly I can explore their restrictions and introduce subtle changes that allow the artworks to move or grow.

Cathedral, 2016

What are the possibilities of working in the wall vs. the traditional canvas?

I’ve always considered my primary practice to be drawing. When studying I trained as a printmaker rather than a painter so I’ve never felt a strong inclination to work on a traditional canvas. I began working directly onto walls during my Masters, partly led by my admiration of the artist Sol LeWitt. I found that a wall drawing can only ever be the perfect size as you are restricted by its physical layout. In addition, creating site-specific works introduces a range of factors that are out of your control, these limitations can help determine and influence the final result. I find these challenges exciting.

Field Drawing, 2015
Image courtesy of The Art House, Wakefield and Axis

Who or what inspires you?

The artists that have the most influence on my practice are Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin and Daniel Buren. Each of them has a very strong sense of identity and utilises the transformative qualities of art. For Sol LeWitt his use of geometry is inspiring, his works are puzzles that are never really solved, only interpreted by their viewers/makers. Agnes Martin’s use of colour is almost spiritual, her exhibition at Tate Modern was very powerful. Despite the simplicity and subtleties of her paintings, I find them moving. On the much bolder scale, I am fascinated by Daniel Buren’s early line paintings that he installed in public spaces, many without permission, to question where art belongs.

Shutter, 2016

What are your future projects?

At beginning of July, I’m having my first solo exhibition in Germany at a space called Adhoc in Bochum. Each year they invite a selection of artists from around the world to create a site responsive artworks for the gallery. I will be making a series of wall drawings using geometric forms. I’m really excited about the opportunity to work abroad and keen to explore a new art scene to meet the artists there. I also have a couple of solo projects later this autumn. I’ll be making a series of new works on paper and a digital artwork for a crypt gallery in Hastings as part of Coastal Currents, an annual art festival. It’s going to be a challenging space to work in as it’s a listed building but it’ll be a great canvas for my drawings. Plus, I’ve been invited to present work for Coventry Biennial. The details are still secret but what I can say is that it will be first time I exhibit wall and window drawings together. It’s going to be a busy and fun year!


 

Front cover image: Umbra Slip, 2017
Created for Sid Motion Gallery

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