Fiona Caley on her Artist Respond Award
Photographer Fiona Caley talks about the mixed media work her 2021 Artist Respond Award has enabled her to pursue through her project 'Fragmented'.
My aim was to explore the elements of recent changes in my life, set in the context of Covid-19, to try and make some sense through creative expression. Loss, moving home, changing circumstances were to feature in my project entitled Fragmented.
S E A W A R D
Women in Sheds.
I started in two ways. Developing a new creative group called Women in Sheds based in Withernsea, my aim was to try and establish creative practise locally, it is still a work in progress, and there is a small group of us. Unsurprisingly some of us have creative shed space.
Secondly my aim was to display work. I approached Withernsea Lighthouse as they had a lovely small cottage gallery area in the grounds of the lighthouse, and a date was set for a summer exhibition. Two women from the Women in Sheds group joined me. I kept the title fairly loose, to enable us to share our different approaches. My aim (for my work particularly) was to draw mixed media elements together to represent the journey from the recent past to the present, along side the work produced by the other two. These were also mixed media.
The exhibition was called S E A W A R D.
My work wasn’t for sale. Following the past couple of years, I wanted to start share work that was an exploration of methods, rather than producing work for sale. The staff there were extremely helpful, it’s a lovely local space. The staff even hung the work for us. Which actually was something I’m not used to, usually I do it. Reception staff and the Lighthouse manager Lindsey Jones said feedback was positive and our exhibition seemed to generate good interest in exhibiting in their gallery space going forward, particularly after Covid-19. One person from the local photography club (I had been attending) said about my work ‘I’ve never seen photography used like this alongside mixed media’. Perhaps this just endorses (again) the fact that I am more than a one medium artist and not purely a photographer, I do like to mix things up and to explore.
Exploring different methods
I had workshops with Linda Ingham Power, she was informative, incredibly knowledgeable and experimental, exactly as I hoped. We looked at mixed media and using different materials. I purchased the necessary materials, gouache, brushes and canvases, papers etc., I have included one of the paintings I started on one of Linda’s workshops in my report. I brought it home and worked on it further, however I was finding that this approach, although I enjoyed it, wasn’t fulfilling me in the way I had hoped it would for this project. I had started a painted photograph; however, I just didn’t like it, again I put this to one side.
I took a different path, away from my idea of painting found objects and painting on to photographs to use the materials I had collected on the beaches, both here in Withernsea and on the beach at East Newton to produce 3D work in box frames. I also used some of my simple poems, alongside the mixed media work. I know I will explore more painting onto photographs and painting of pottery one day, but somehow it just didn’t sit right on this project.
I began to look through the boxes of letters, documents and photos from East Newton for inspiration. When I found some to start with, I placed the documents alongside the places of significance, as a contrast, to the series of photographs. This is something I will continue. I knew delving into boxes would be difficult at times, the emotion sometimes prevents me from carrying on with the work to the best effect, but it is something I must carry on with. And it won’t stop me from continuing. It feels as important now as it did a few months ago. I’ve examined myself to see if this is just about me processing my grief, is it indulgent? Does it have value? Perhaps it is all those things. And does it matter?
However I feel I should present the work in a quality and focussed way, so it can be viewed easily and almost clinically to not appear self-indulgent, to almost remove the emotion. Just revealing glimpses of it. Following on from my project with dad ‘The Land that Connects Us’ (supported by St Hugh’s), there is a continuity, and I would like to explore exhibiting these photographs in a bigger venue. My love for the written word is as strong as ever, in fact it is equal to my love of visual art and photography currently, so this will feature too.
I still feel fragmented, and I am not sure I have drawn these fragments together as cohesively as I wanted to, by this stage, but I have made a start. At the very least I have had one exhibition and I am working towards another. The venue is still to be sourced. I will look for other ways to develop and add to what I have done so far. Though it may take me some time because of the content.
You can scroll across the top image on this page to see more of Fiona's work.