Thursday, 11 February 2010

paintings & chicken soup....

artist fiona charis carswell creates beautiful paintings: she also makes great chicken soup! one frosty morning recently, i drove over to chester where fiona lives. we'd been trying to meet since before christmas, when i saw her paintings for the first time at the 'off the edge' exhibition in styal, but sadly, snow, a flooded cellar (fiona's) and a dodgy clutch (mine) had prevented this. an invitation to lunch finally brought us together.

having spent most summers since childhood on the isle of jura in scotland, fiona's work is the result of a natural empathy with the wild and awe inspiring beauty of the island. interpreting its natural energy in the expanse of the landscape, her paintings and drawings are experimental in essence. she is searching out a balance, a fluency of composition, having observed the contours stretched and surrendered to the elements.

using lines of charcoal, blocks of pastel and paint, fiona works on board and perspex, layering with plaster and papers - building up or scraping back.

there is a stillness to her work - something so simple about the lines and the gentle colour palette -and yet there is also an energy and vibrancy which gives each picture a character of it's own.

fiona's background is fascinating: she studied fine art in oxford and was tutored by the world famous bookbinder, Ivor Robinson. her uncle was assistant to the sculptor Henry Moore, her cousin an assistant to anthony caro, and her grandfather a poet and writer. fiona has inherited those writing skills, and often incorporates text into her pictures. she is also currently working on the illustrations for a retelling of an african bushman tale.

the beautiful mural on her twin daughters' bedroom wall is also testament to her skills as a children's illustrator.