This month I have a pretty special Artist to share with you and once you see her work you won't forget it!
I still recall the very first time I saw the distinct work of Fiona Kennedy-Altoft in 2011. Fiona was having a solo exhibition 'Offspring' at the Gold Coast Regional Gallery and there was a write up in the courier mail. When I read that she was also a secondary Art teacher on the Gold Coast (originally from Roma in SW Queensland) I was intrigued by her story. It was around the same time I had started to get back into my own practice and I was inspired by Fiona and her artistic achievements. Fiona's style of painting is quite remarkable. Her combination of floral patterns and textural bird portraits create a striking contrast, making her work really stand out.
Those who are familiar with my work know I love to paint birds and women, so naturally I was drawn to Fiona's work for those similarities - but there was something else that I liked about her playful depictions that I just couldn't quite put my finger on...at least that was the case until we finally met in 2013. I had reached out to Fiona via her Facebook page early in 2013 when I was scouting for artists to take part in my group exhibition 'Empowerment' to raise funds for the Leukaemia Foundation. Organising that exhibition gave me an excuse to directly contact many artists I had long admired from a distance, that in itself was empowering as I made some really lovely connections with a lot of great people. Fiona was really encouraging throughout the process and not only did she agree to hang one of her incredible pieces in the exhibition she also kindly donated a work for the fundraiser. Both works received a lot of praise and her large work was truly the anchor piece for the entire space. I was so excited to have someone of her calibre hanging in the show.
Over to you Fiona! x
I have been an Art teacher on and off at Marymount College at Burleigh (on the Gold Coast) for nearly 17 years. The school and staff were my second family as I had been there so long and my Husband had been commuting to Brisbane for work all of that time when we realised it was time for a change. Since living here we have travelled the world with our two children Isabella, 12 and Harper, 10. Lucky kids! I didn’t get to go in a plane until I was 24.
I am originally from Roma in South West Queensland, which is a very small town. My little family currently live a great life and it is peculiar to say that we moved to an Island in Hong Kong to find a small country town for my children to roam freely and safely, like I did as a child. We have been here for 2 years and I currently have my first solo exhibition on here in HK…which under the circumstances is bloody incredible. I paint in the lounge area of the small apartment we currently live in. I used to have a studio space that spanned the space of the entire apartment. My family are amazing and their friends are coping with my mess and are all very much used to seeing me painting away in the lounge room when they visit.
I also won a National Emerging Artist award from Hawthorne Gallery with a $5000 prize, which doesn’t seem like much but again it was very exciting. There were many solo and group shows after that. I think it just kept me painting. I got great advice from Lorraine Pilgrim. She pushed me and made me want to 'just keep painting’ and get through different stages and to tell the story. In 2012 my students nominated me for “Excellence in Teaching” run by the Queensland College of Teachers which was yet another highlight.