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Q & As with Fiona Macphee

1. How did you hear about Refresh Art Award and what made you want to enter? 

I heard about Refresh Art Award through Curator Space.  It was one of the very first Open Calls I applied for and I was so thrilled to have been selected, even in the first instance for promotion on the website until June.  When I got the email saying I had been selected for the final 24 I felt a great sense of achievement and validation for my work.  Its appeal was it was going to promote your work if you entered as long as it fitted the brief.  Being one of the first competitions I entered I was not sure what to expect but the entries were really strong, some more than others but it was fantastic to see such a wide variety.

2. What was your highlight from being part of Refresh Art Award?  Well it was exciting being selected along with the other finalists.  The opportunity to meet some amazing artists and find out their processes, context and the emotive elements of their work is something I won’t forget.  Their stories behind some of the work were inspiring.  Helping set the show up after having only made contact online was great, to feel that sense of achievement for me and from others.

3. What advice might you give to someone interested in entering the next competition? 

I would advise them the read the brief for the competition to ensure it fits the criteria, it avoids disappointment. I believe an interesting and  concise artists statement explaining your work must have an impact on selection, with so many entries for some competitions your work and write up needs to influence and give leverage to push it further.

4. What is the most important thing to you as an artist? This can be physical or internal.

I am drawn to work that has a personal element, as this is how I add context and meaning to my own processes; through my own experiences in life.  Why do we do the things we do; how to we relate this through our work; where does it come from?  If it feels right for you, then don’t let go and don’t be alarmed when you start to become emotionally entrenched in what you are doing, its part art, part healing.

5. What inspires your current art practice? 

Art as therapy is something I have been interested in for a few years now.  My degree dissertation in 2018 was on this subject so I have researched quite extensively.  Unfortunately, but fortunately, I have therapeutically used the “self” as the main protagonist since my diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer in 2016/17.  I always feel truly grateful that I had my work to keep my mind and body away from those dark moments that envelop you at times.

6. Where do you see your artwork going next?  

I seemed to have developed an interest in all things micro and macro; using microscopes and telescopes as tools to experiment with so I am keen to take this further, the cosmos being my new fascination.  I am going to Bangalore in September for three months on a student exchange as part of the Srishti Institute of Art & Design post-graduate programme in contemporary art practice.  I will be availing myself with the science facilities and exploring ways in which to nurture my curiosity, both culturally and artistically.


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