Here are some photos from my ‘Open Studio’ exhibition at the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester following my residency there. I had such a great time during my ‘Whisper Residency’. I look forward to further exploring some of the themes I started looking at whilst I was there.
I’m excited to announce my ‘Open Studio’ exhibition at the Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester which opens this Friday! It’s my first proper solo show!
The opening drinks reception is this Friday 24th September from 5-7.30pm. If you can make it then please do come along! The show runs until 29th September
At the same time, the lovely Sonia Kan will be showing her installation/performance ‘The mother and her untamed entity’ which is an exploration of the relationship between a mother and her daughter. So there will be plenty to see at the Chinese Arts Centre that evening!
Here’s their introduction to my work: Fiona Long is a recent graduate from Wimbledon College of Art and has been working with the two artists from our recent Infinite Strokes exhibition to explore hidden shapes and symbols in Chinese calligraphy.
Having graduated in both art and psychology, Fiona is fascinated by the way in which we cognitively interpret images. Using Chinese calligraphy symbols as the starting point for her research Fiona spent the residency investigating Chinese characters and taking part in calligraphy workshops. Her Open Studio work focuses on symbols which resemble one thing, but in translation mean something completely different. Fiona has tried to transform these traditional symbols in the hope that her interpretations alter the meanings of characters whilst also showing how images can transcend language.
In the Open Studio space, Fiona has followed this line of investigation with a number of painting and 3D works. Each piece focuses on this idea of manipulating characters; some taught to her in the calligraphy workshops, some from locally sourced text books and some found by chance encounters whilst walking around the city. On closer inspection, one particular piece in the studio, Pareidolia, depicts an all too familiar patterned gate within Chinese Arts Centre’s building.
It is clear to see from Fiona’s work that there is an intense preoccupation with the linking of symbols to images, and finding new meanings and messages within any given picture. Many of Fiona’s works depict her awareness of symbols resembling faces. She approaches each symbol as if it has its own characteristics, expressions and in a sense personality. For the audience, we can experience our own personal interpretation of what each symbol might resemble in our everyday lives, whether it is a cheeky smile or an animals snarl.
I continue to enjoy my residency at the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester. I’ve been looking at how image can transcend language and how it’s easier to see images in Chinese calligraphy when we don’t understand what it means. Everyone can appreciate its beauty but we read it in different ways. I’m focussing on characters that look, to me, like faces following my series of ‘Pareidolic Field Studies‘. I’m intrigued by the difference in the way that we draw when we understand something. The fluid and fluent style used in Chinese calligraphy is very different to the way that I draw it when studying the lines and how they correspond to each other as I can only see the shapes and not the meanings.
I’ve also had fun exploring the art scene in Manchester and getting some inspiration. On Thursday night I went to another private view at Rogue Artists’ Studios and met lots of lovely people including Mike Chavez-Dawson who curated an amazing exhibition called Unrealised Potential that’s on at the Cornerhouse right now. It’s a collaborative group exhibition which explores the creative potential of artists’ unrealied projects, blurring the lines between artist, curator, visitor and producer. You could spend hours in there. There’s an awful lot of unrealised (and realised) potential! It’s touring the country and possibly the world so I recommend a look-see if it comes near you.
On Friday I went to the Manchester Art Gallery, Castlefield Gallery, CUBE, The Cornerhouse, The Whitworth and then a private view at Victoria Baths. I particularly enjoyed The Perfect Gallery by Christian Jankowski where he exhibited the gallery itself and a particularly amusing film about his transformation of the Pump House Gallery in Battersea Park. I also loved the outsider art at the Whitworth and the video installation ‘Monument (Apollo Pavillion, Peterlee)’ by Jane and Louise Wilson. There was some good work at ‘Chew The Float’ at the Victoria Baths by Cottonopolis Collective but the building was so fantastic that the artworks had to do battle with their surroundings.
I’m having a a great time in Manchester on my residency at the Chinese Arts Centre. I was met from the station by the centre’s lovely exhibition coordinator Elizabeth Wewiora who found and liked my work in the first place. She gave me a little tour of the city. On Saturday, I attended a lovely Chinese painting and calligraphy run by Mary Tang. It’s such a skill and artform. It must take years or decades to master. I had fun trying at least! I was then whisked off to see a brilliant show by the curator, Daniel Staincliffe, called Purveyors at Rogue Artists’ Studios, with works by Rob Dunne, Bryn Lloyd-Evans and Daniel Staincliffe. After that, I got a tour of Rogue Studios and got to see a lot of the work that’s going on there. There’s some great stuff! The studios are in an old textile mill and the atmosphere was fab! I’m now getting on with making some work, inspired by my experiences and research so far….
During the residency, I will explore how images can be seen differently depending on our comprehension of them. In my artistic practice, I’m interested in how susceptible we are, as humans, to see faces in things. With my degrees in both Fine Art and Psychology, I find the ways in which we cognitively interpret image fascinating. Chinese calligraphy is so beautiful to look at, and yet I have no idea what any of the characters mean. I will spend the residency investigating Chinese characters, particularly those that may look like faces and make highly laboured paintings and drawings from them. With the understanding of their meaning, and years of calligraphy practise, these characters can be drawn in seconds. To make laboured drawings with hundreds of ‘timid’ marks is rather paradoxical. I would love to discover how these drawings would then be interpreted by British and Chinese cultures. An exploration of whether I had somehow altered or mutated the meaning of a character through poor transcription is one of the aims of the project. I also aim to show how image can transcend language with this body of work.
Luckily, my residency has been timed to coincide with Infinite Strokes: Chinese Ink Painting; Mary Tang & Cathy Wu. There will be workshops and demonstrations for visitors to the space and I’ll be able to join in too! I look forward to hopefully collaborating with and learning from Mary and Cathy!
My residency takes place from the 27th August to 11th September with my Open Studio exhibition on Friday 24th September. If you’re able, it would be lovely to see you at the open studio, or you can pop in during my residency to see what I’m up to. Let me know though since I’ll be going on various research trips and would hate to miss your visit! You could also come along to one of the calligraphy workshops:
Saturday 28 August
For families and children: 10am – 11:45am
For Adults: 1pm – 3:15pm
Saturday 4 September
For families and children: 10am – 11:45am
For Adults: 1pm – 3:15pm