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I am interested in the poetics and the politics of landscape space and the relationship between exterior and interior space that can be found in histories of the decorative. I produce objects, site-specific commissions and written texts that connect real and imagined geographies. I engage with the forms, motifs and materials of the decorative and applied arts and with specific heritage sites in order to unsettle prior narratives – particularly those relating to gendered and colonial histories.
The works included in the Cambridge Show (Tilt, Furl and Shadowland ) are part of a recent body of practice that developed out of research undertaken for a temporary, site-specific public art commission produced in 2018 at the National Trust estate of Gibside in Gateshead. The commission focused on women, colonial plant collecting, botanical culture and the gendering of knowledge in the 18th century. I discovered a large network of women who were exchanging plants and seeds and recording their observations in what has been referred to as an early form of feminist science. At this time women were unable to go to University or to validate their knowledge via public forums. Many of the ‘exotic’ plants that were collected overseas were stripped of their original indigenous names and associated knowledge traditions and were reclassified using Western systems and Latin terms. The works reveal a recurring utopian impulse frequently found in the decorative, a formal idealism and sense of escapism. However, there’s no easy flight to the pastoral here. These works hint at the visual ‘blind spots’ in ‘our’ understanding and how particular histories are occluded or devalued.
Fiona Curran studied at Manchester School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art, she is a studio artist at Wysing Arts Centre and a Senior Tutor at the Royal College of Art.
Fiona Curran, Furl, 2019. Acrylic on paper, fabric collage with needlepoint over board, wooden frame.
Fiona Curran, Tilt, 2018. Needlepoint, fabric and card collage over board, painted wooden frame.
Fiona Curran, Shadowland, 2019. Photographic print on archival paper.
‘The Cambridge Show’ brings together work by twenty-two artists who live or work in and around Cambridge. Showcasing a cross-section of the artistic community operating in the local area, from photography to performance, the exhibition will explore these artists’ diverse practices, and some of the themes and issues that they are engaging with right now.
Fiona Curran, Tilt, 2018. Needlepoint, Fabric and card collage, painted frame. 44 x 34 x 3.5 cms. Courtesy of the artist.