Fiona Clabon's collaged illustrations are a retro lovers delight. Her prints and cards show detailed collages of vintage telephones, radios and cameras. We chatted with Fiona recently about her involvement with the Arnolfini and her inspiration behind her current work.
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
My name is Fiona, and I’m a collage illustrator. I graduated with an illustration degree from Winchester School of Art just over a year ago now – which has flown by! I create clean-cut textured collages and sell them in the form of prints, cards and coasters in Bristol, London and Leicester.
Apart from creating things what else do you do?
One of my favourite things I also do is to form part of Young Arnolfini. My involvement with Arnolfini has steadily grown over the last year, and includes working as part of the Front of House Team and as a Learning and Development Assistant. The Young Arnolfini is a group of 16-25 year olds, aiming to bridge the gap between the young people of Bristol and contemporary art. We hold regular exhibitions, events for young people, have a blog and produce a quarterly zine, plus lots more. I’ve found it to be an inspiring, warm and enthusiastic group to be a part of. So many opportunities have come my way through my involvement with Young Arnolfini, and the friendships I have formed from the group are fantastic.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I think it’s one of those things that has always been buried deep inside of me. When I was at school it was always art homework that I would occupy my entire weekend with, my labour of love was always art. Science and maths were nowhere to be seen! I’ve started to wonder what non-creative people do for fun, after all, a holiday or day trip without visiting an art gallery is incomplete!
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
The texture part of everything I is what I love the most! I often stop to photograph wall or rusty gates and signs when I’m out and about. Decay creates the most wonderful natural textures. Apart from textures, I guess I love it’s simplicity. Creating clean cut images and compiling shapes together.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Stacey Knight was a big inspiration to me a few years ago when I first began cutting. I find her images incredible; the textures, the lines, and the accurate nature of her collages. I also love Matisse’s Cut Outs, and recently went to Tate Modern to see them in his recent exhibition.
I also love objects, for their static and permanent nature, it is always so assured and still. I can also sometimes be a typical girly girl, with a love of cakes and pretty things. Photographs are great for capturing inspiration and ideas, and have formed the starting blocks for projects. Just being out and about is incredibly inspirational, as I’m sure a lot of people do. Just realising how much life there is outside of your door step is pretty nice.
Describe your studio or workspace?
I am still one of those people who work from home, be it a positive or negative thing! My work spreads from room to room and I have taken over the majority of my brother’s bedroom since he moved out – everyone needs an extra room for art supplies right? Oh and clothes! I still miss the huge desk I had when I was at university, but now I make do with my more than adequate desk or the dining table, much to my family’s annoyance at times.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman, who would it be?
I don’t have a pin point answer for this one! I was introduced to Kavel Rafferty’s illustrations during secondary school, and have loved her work ever since, especially her food based illustrations for a wide variety of clients. They are light and colourful and seem full of energy and love. I also love Matisse’s cut outs as I said earlier – I first saw them at a small exhibition in Winchester during uni and fell in love with their form and simplicity. Marion Deuchars is a more recent find, and a favourite of mine are her illustrations for Carluccios and her fantastic books.
How would you describe your creative process?
Slow – in lots of ways! My process of creating individual images is slow, cutting and piecing back together. I don’t think however that there has ever been a time where the time spent has not been worth it. Also slow in terms of finding time to illustrate. My life at the moment, and for a lot of moments before this, is one big balancing act it seems. Between my several part-time jobs, voluntary work, illustrating and then having some down time and a bit of a life outside of this too, illustrating unfortunately doesn't occupy as much of my time as I’d like it to at the moment.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I recently bought some beautiful green glass earrings from Cockington Court in Devon. The afternoon we spent there was an extremely wet one; images of all of my family running through the pouring rain to get there will always be engrained on my mind! But the eclectic mix of artists and makers there was completely inspiring, and amazingly beautiful. I also cherish a cross stitch that my Grandma made for me when I was born. It will always be on a wall wherever I go – a reminder of what a chubby baby I was! I also still have the jewellery box that was bought for me by my Great Aunt at my Christening just after I was born. It doesn’t necessarily fit with the style of the rest of my room, but I think is another one of those items that will always stay with me. They may not all be handmade, but I have a small pretty box on my desk in which I keep anything small and sentimental in. It is a box of memories and objects that I cherish.
What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
In all honesty, I find it really difficult to get out when I'm stuck in a creative rut. It’s such a difficult thing to do, and I remember it driving my extremely crazy at Uni. I sometimes find going off and doing something completely un-creative helps, as does just escaping from the house or the office. A change of scenery is always a positive.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
In terms of a physical location, I’d still like to be in Bristol, I think! (Although I did fall a little further in love with Edinburgh after another visit this summer.) Bristol is so diverse and so culturally full that it feels like a perfect place to live for me currently. Who knows what kind of situation I’ll be in ten years’ time, but I think Bristol would still be a part of it. I’d also like to travel in the next few years, which I’m sure will change the angle from which I view Bristol. In terms of career, I’d love to hope that in ten years’ time I will have more of a hold upon my illustration work, and will be in contracted employment less and freelance illustration work a lot more!
Thank you Fiona! We think Bristol is a pretty wonderful place, and a perfect place to live too. You can discover Fiona's work for sale in our Paper Scissors Stone shop.
Paper Scissors Stone
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 5pm