Artist in Residence: Fiona Grady

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Posted 1st July 2019

A Glimpse of the East at Watts Gallery

Fiona Grady

I was invited by Watts Gallery to create a series of window installations across various sites within the Artists' Village. My artworks are inspired by the forthcoming exhibition on British painter, John Frederick Lewis, who specialised in Oriental and Mediterranean scenes. His work offers a unique glimpse into the intricately designed interiors of nineteenth-century domestic and public spaces in Egypt. The vibrant colours and architectural structures would have seemed unfamiliar and exotic to the British public at the time. My aim was to capture the sense of wonder in his paintings to transform the windows of the Artists' Village.

I began my project by considering Lewis's artworks in the new exhibition, examining the representation of windows, and painted light. The rich green, blue, red and orange hues in The Siesta and Study for The Courtyard of the Coptic Patriarch's House in Cairo were particularly influential in my choice of colour palette. His works present a lifestyle where the warm climate allows the interior and exterior spaces to exist as one; much like at Watts Gallery - Artists' Village, nature is ever present.

The resulting work is a series of window installations created from transparent coloured vinyl and mirrored gold vinyl on the windows of the Sculpture Gallery, Tea Shop, Shop, Clore Learning Studio, the Summer House and more. The triangle shapes reference Mashrabiya, motifs characteristic of Arabic residences, with repeating patterns that allow a sense of development on each of the windows. The use of metallic vinyl was particularly important as it mirrors its surroundings, introducing the colours of the Wattses's gardens into the vinyl artworks. The translucent vinyl also allows coloured shadows to be cast in the interior rooms highlighting the vibrancy and beauty of the setting.

See Fiona Grady's installation across the Artists' Village during John Frederick Lewis: Facing Fame.