Artist of the Month - Alexandra Ffion
We are really excited to introduce our November artist, Alexandra Ffion, whose large textured canvasses and intricate collages have been admired by international collectors. After studying foundation at Central St. Martins, Alexandra arrived at Brighton University where she gained a degree in Fine Art, Critical Practice and was also given honourable mention by Nagoya University of Arts Award for her final project at the 2015 Final Year Degree Show.
I recently met with Alexandra since she has now returned to Brighton full-time, after a stint in the countryside, she told me she has an insatiable creative hunger right now and cannot stop making. Hearing this made me feel so happy as I have admired Alexandra’s work for a long time, her textured canvasses always seem to suck me into a trance with their vivid colours and layered surfaces, there is so much to see and connect with as she very much pours herself in to each piece.
Alexandra was kind enough to answer a few questions for AIB, which offer a lot of insight into how she creates her work, what inspires her and what struggles she has come across as an artist.
Interview with Artist of the month - Alexandra Ffion
How would you explain your artwork?
I would describe my work as an organically developing expression of my relationship with nature. I work with elements such as colour, texture and clay to form a visual representation of my perspective of the world. As I find majority of my materials on the streets of Brighton I think their is a deeper underlying environmental message through my art, to use what we have or find and explore our surroundings, as there is inspiration all around us, for example I use old books and magazines for my collages, to used canvases. I create my work out of what life gives to me. For me, my love and appreciation for my surroundings connected me deeper with that important message and made me want people to connect back with nature. In art your subconscious always shines through in everything you make, that is what makes it so special.
What inspires your creative process?
On a daily basis I encounter creativity in all aspects of my habitat. I walk a lot to clear my head and find comfort in discovering new aspects of inspiration for my work. From the minute textures and cracks of the concrete, to the colours and patterns of the clouds. I find that I am constantly absorbing and collecting various forms of information around me, which I then transfer onto a surface.
Throughout all of my paintings I intuitively capture a moment, or a feeling and explore it till both of us are in harmony with each other. I mainly use clay as a medium for my paintings to explore the bridge between painting and sculpture, by physically moulding it onto a surface it reveals these beautiful cracks and hidden layers. You get to know the painting during the whole creative process and watch it naturally evolve, constantly changing with every stroke of paint. I find that more beautiful than the outcome.
How did you get involved with ‘The Painters Project’?
The project came about through my partner, who introduced me to Eric (Ceccarini) who was a student of his grandma’s from Belgium. We met at his home in Ibiza one evening and there was an instant connection. After meeting he invited me to become a part of ‘The Painters Project’ where an artist, a model and photographer work with and respond to each others creative energy. The whole experience is then captured with a single photograph. Each person responds to each other’s artistry and is then showcased through the photograph to highlight the beautiful connection and collaborative aspect of the piece. It was a surreal experience to interpret the body as a live canvas for the first time. With each movement the model (Yoditina) took, the intense smells from the spices, coffee and cracking clay made it a multi-sensual experience for everyone.
See more here for The Painters Project and Eric Ceccarini- www.thepaintersproject.com
What do you find challenging about being an artist?
For me, I think that knowing when to put down the paintbrush and remove yourself from your work is the hardest challenge. There is a huge amount of emotional attachment to my work, as all of my paintings are intuitively created from the heart. I find it difficult to know when to finish a piece and let it stand on its own. As the process of my paintings is so physically enjoyable and expressive I sometimes, in hindsight, have overworked the canvas to compensate for the act of making.
Also, what I think many find challenging is finding a voice amongst the other thousands of art graduates, as the market is unbelievably saturated, especially in Brighton. However, this does not faze me as I believe that through collaborative project, meeting people and involving the community with important environmental issues through art speaks more to me.
How did art become your passion?
Having been brought up in the East Sussex countryside and travelled with my family from a young age, I have been constantly exposed to the beauty and wonders of the natural world. The inspiration always came naturally when the forest was your playground and art was part of everyday life at home. I used to paint secret murals with my brother under the kitchen table when I was about 6 without my parent’s knowledge. There was always something so powerful and important about using your hands and your senses to create, build and discover. It was probably 10 years later that I first started to use my whole body and push the boundaries of my practice. At school I used to hide in the art room to escape the other school activities that I was not interested in. I found a great sense of comfort in there, creating and being surrounded by all forms of art. It always fascinated me how each person’s personality could shine through a work without the need or use for words. This pure inner expression that I became caught up in, in that room, has always resonated with me. Looking back at my career I spent every waking moment in there to fuel this creative hunger and that is probably when I realised that I would never stop making.
What are you currently working on?
At this moment in time, my new project is looking at the materials I use for my work. By giving an artwork a kind of ‘identity’ through the selected use of materials such as paper, sand, earth etc. I want to make the work speak of the designated area. Combining these elements from the environment where it was created I think is extremely powerful.
I recently put this in practice in Formentera, where I collaborated with the locals and raised money for the Save Posidonia Project. It was an amazing experience, to use my art as a platform to raise awareness about this endangered environment. However, it was particularly poignant for me as I foraged a lot of my materials directly from beaches. The Posidonia that I found gave the work a highly textured aesthetic and sculptural quality that I had never experienced with just using clay and paper. This made the work almost entirely site-specific and the locals were fascinated about applying this material directly for an artistic purpose. Since coming back I am directly applying this to my work. Creating large canvases inspired by, but also incorporating the autumnal leaves into the clay. I have become a hoarder of organic matter (much of the annoyance of my partner) as I cannot help but see the beauty in everything.
What is your proudest moment so far?
Over the past couple of years there have been a few moments where I have felt incredibly proud of my artistic journey. Nevertheless, in September was the first time I viewed the final photograph for ‘The Painters Project’ in the flesh for the Brussels International Fine Art Fair. It was incredibly overwhelming seeing it, as it had been almost a year since I had collaborated with Eric and Yoditina. Exhibiting next to world-renowned artists, past and present, I could not stop uncontrollably giggling which was nothing new but it was an incredible moment to witness and have been a part of such a memorable collaboration.
Alexandra Ffion will be selling some of her work at The Open Market Christmas Market, you can also find her cards and prints in Snoopers Paradise and Artemis on Kensington Gardens.
If you would like to see more or contact Alexandra about exhibiting, commissions or collaborations head to http://alexfbarrington.wixsite.com/alexandraffion or contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch.