With this blog, my aim is to post a slather of ideas, lines, colour and inevitably a little bit of babble. I would like it to be a place where Architecture meets Art, falls in love and procreates. This is my passion, brilliant, unguarded and unafraid.

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Friday
Jun292018

Self Portrait as an Actual Boulder // Collemacchia, Molise, Italy 2018

I'll just leave this here as a gelato chaser for those of you that need it after the previous post. I know that I do. 

Thursday
Jun282018

Imperfect Circles

La Madonna at Breaking Point // or A Death in the Family

There have been many circles present and appearing in Collemacchia since I arrived last week to undertake this two-week residency at The Museum of Loss and Renewal. I’ve been using them in my process to help guide intuition and feeling, and in turn have been guided towards them in this beautiful Italian national park. In Chinese culture the circle is very close to perfect although what I believe is that absolute perfection exists only in imperfection. In my own body house I’m constantly pulled between circle and square, east and west, heart and head. What I am beginning to recognise is that this is not only ok; it is beautiful and also necessary for me to function fully. I am a multicultural baby, an intersectional woman and a global citizen and I am trying as best as I can to express this experience through my art. 

The circle as cycle has been a very strong reminder to me that life and death are very much interlinked and no matter how fast we run, they cannot and will not be separated. Through my works on this residency I have performed several personal rituals to actively grieve and morn for certain loved ones. I won’t go into detail here, as I’ll save it for when I’m ready to exhibit this body of work. However what I will invite you to know is that when I was less than two I had a little brother named Sebastian Fong who died of S.I.D.S (sudden infant death syndrome) at the age of 8 weeks, on Mother’s Day.

Over the past wee while I’ve been exploring through grief counseling the many ways in which this loss, event, experience and tragedy has sent ripples through my family and through my body and has formed us all in very unique ways. I can’t change this fact. Nor am I trying to, but what I do wish to do is to let go. The beauty is what I am seeking; the gold in the glue (as my wife would say). This drawing titled La Madonna at Breaking Point or A death in the Family is a tribute to Sebastian, to my incredibly strong and beautiful three siblings Rebecca, Oliver and Samuel, and to my Parents Theresa and Lancelot who not only didn't break, but continue to love and inspire all those whose paths they cross. 

Thanks for reading, Em x

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If you would like to learn more about this residency program and the wonderful roaming art practice of Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen of The Museum of Loss and Renewal, you can find them at www.tmolar.org.

Wednesday
Jun272018

Visualising Empathy

Self Soothing // Clay Sculpture, 2017

A while ago I started drawing multiple figures on the one page as a way to save paper. However, in developing this technique I realised the power and beauty of exploring the human psyche through our ability to feel complex emotions. I’m looking at self soothing here. The ability to hold oneself at any given moment. Not only in times of sorrow and need but also in the celebration of personal empowerment. 

This piece is the 3rd in a small series of little people exploring empathy in the figure. Tiny in scale, my sculptures have been materialised out of life beautiful and sometimes strange lifedrawing studies. This piece was made at the end of 2017 and I'm reflecting on it here in Collemacchia because I think this is what I am trying to achieve with my work, a way to visualise emotion that is felt int the body. Emotion such as empathy, loss, self soothing and struggle. 

I'm planning to dive into more of these figure studies upon returning to Scotland as my mountain of lifedrawings continues to grow weekly. Yey for clay, now I can hold my drawings! But for now, I shall catch a bus into Venafro to clear my mind and have an explore before returning to the studio here in Collemacchia for the final push. When in Italy it's totally acceptable to have gelato for breakfast right??!

Ciao for now,

Em x

Wednesday
Jun272018

Process, Play and Material Exploration: The Cabbage

No more cabbages in Filignano! They have all been Fonged.

I made a conscious decision when packing materials for this residency to travel as light as possible with the thought that I would find my material when I arrived. Of course I brought paper, watercolour, ink and a few graphite pencils with me but sculpturally I wanted to be resourceful and be open to inspiration here in Collemacchia. Over the course of the past 10 days I have been having multiple encounters with animals, plant life and humans that have been enormously profound. I like to bring the magic back down to earth by working with very everyday and ephemeral materials. Containers and skins // fruit and veg. The abilty to study the flesh of fruit and veg as it matures and rots pleases me enormously. Beauty in age, life cycles & mortality etc. I'm also really curious about colour and smell.

Drawing before drying, visual research: Collemacchia, Molise, Italy

Dehydrating Cabbage Leaves : Sunshine as Resource : Collemacchia, Molise, Italy

When I was at the little supermarket in Filignano last week for a few bits and pieces, I saw a red cabbage nestled amongst the fruit and veg and it was just so beautiful. The skin and veins, blood red colour and general size and shape reminded me of the body, both heart and brain. These two organs I am always trying to unite within myself, emotion and intellect, as they're both very strong and not nice when they're conflicting with each other. When I’m studying the body either from the inside (specimens) or the outside (life drawing), I’m constantly looking for the landscape. In the landscape I am attempting the reverse. This cabbage however was body, landscape and object all at once. Perfection. So I bought it. I had no intention to eat it, just to study it and keep it for company (getting a little desperate here as you can see)…really must learn Italian for future visits.

Drawing whilst watching over my cabbages as the storm clouds threaten to break : Collemacchia Molise, Italy

Darwina Fong (my Grandma) making her beef jerky // She has a dehydrator because she's profesh! Darwin, Australia 2017

After making one drawing of this cabbage, I decided to go and buy the rest of the cabbages in the shop much to the amusement and bewilderment of the locals. I’ve since being drying them in the sun outside the studio here in Collemacchia. There’s something very beautiful about using the sunshine as a resource.  It means that you have to take time to let ideas mature naturally. You have to watch the weather & the clouds, and you must handle the material in a way that is precious. I love to preserve food. I’ve inherited this love and ritual from my Grandma who is the absolute queen of preserved goods and cooking in general. Food is her religion. So I’ve been preserving my cabbages and allowing the processing time to aid my thoughts about where to go next. All the while drawing each one before it gets sacrificed to the lemon juice and sun gods.

Studio Ceremony : Process as Ritual : Collemacchia, Molise, Italy

I’m still feeling my way in the dark as to what happens next but I believe it is something about ceremony and ritual, love and loss.

If you would like to learn more about this residency program and the wonderful roaming art practice of Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen of The Museum of Loss and Renewal, you can find them at www.tmolar.org.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading. Em x

Tuesday
Jun262018

Residency in Collemacchia : Orientation + Carnet de Voyage

Filignano seen from the top of Filignano Vecchio locating the road entering Filignano from Venafro 190619

Filignano Vecchio Morning 250618

Since leaving Scotland destined for Italy on this two week residency with The Museum of Loss and Renewal just over one week ago, I have done a lot of drawing. Most prolifically in two A5 sized sketchbooks that are very easy to carry whilst walking and a number of larger format and more detailed pencil drawings. I want to talk specifically to the sketches here though and my carnet-de-voyage style technique of finding my bearings in a landscape. By bearings I’m talking not just about compass bearings but also emotional bearings, psychological mapping if you will, or psychogeography much in the style of Guy Debord and the Situationist International technique of the dérive. Instinctual wandering, recorded in my case through sketching.

Pineta drawn from the metal road barrier on the decending road between Collemacchia and Filignano the entrance to the walk up through to Filignano Vecchio 220618

The first landmark I noticed when entering Collemacchia by car from Venafro with Tracy Mackenna was a pine forest called the Pineta. It stood out to me because of the way the light was hitting the structure of the trees. It had a luminous presence amongst the character of the surrounding mountains.

Filignano Vecchio and the Pineta seen from the Track at the back of Collemacchia heading up to the Tholos 170618Fillignano Vecchio and Filignano noting the structure and character of the landscape 180618

On top of the Pineta is what I began to affectionately call the ‘Baldy-Patch.’ This is because it does look like the head of an old granddad, unruly yet commanding. It turns out that this area at the top is the ruins of an ancient Samnite settlement ‘Filignano Vecchio', which now watches over the hamlets below, including the ‘new’ Filignano.  I have been walking on average 3 hours per day here in Collemacchia, all the while orientating myself via the Baldy Patch. It has become my inner true north of this landscape as it can be seen from most places due to its elevation, central location and character. 

Filignano Vecchio watching over the New Filignano separated by the edge of the Pineta 180618Pineta and Devotion Collemacchia 180618

Speaking of characters, the trees on the top of the baldy patch remind me of those ‘my family’ stickers on the backs of car windscreens that indicate the composition of the family structure. After walking around this landscape on the first day with Tracy as my guide, we finally made it up to this location as the last stop. The feeling and character of the plant life up there gave me a real sense of the sacred nature of the site. Emotionally it felt like a resting place, guarded or watched over by wild human scaled flowers (which I don’t yet know the name of). I’ve been calling these flowers the ‘Ancestors’ as their presence really does both delight and demand respect.

Baldy Patch Foreboding 180618

After initially feeling very welcome in this enchanting and sacred resting place, I returned the following day alone to do some drawing studies of the ancestors. This time however felt a true sense of foreboding. As if I had stumbled into a private ceremony uninvited. The flowers were all staring at me with their bright yellow eyes and demanding in unison, what my intentions were. I must admit I was a bit intimidated. I did a quick slightly anxious sketch of them then promptly made my way down the hill, determined to process this feeling and return the following day in a calmer state of mind. This time not expecting to be immediately welcomed, yet with a plan to introduce myself slowly and allow the place time to accept my presence. This might sound a little strange to you (the reader) and I assure you, I have questioned in the last week whether I might be on the verge of losing my mind at times. Although this soft approach of allowing this wilderness time to know me by first gently introducing myself has yielded so many beautiful and positive encounters with not only the landscape but with humans and objects alike. This mindset has really opened up possibilities for creative expansion and play.

Filignano Vecchio: Golden reveries and emotional alchemy 250618

This drawing from early yesterday morning titled Filignano Vecchio: Golden reveries and emotional alchemy is the kind of drawing done in a landscape that is becoming well known, loved and respected by me and in turn is accepting my presence as a visitor. I am here in Collemacchia for a remaining 4 and a half days and will continue to consolidate my process here so that you can share in this incredible experience. If you would like to learn more about this residency program and the wonderful roaming art practice of Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen of The Museum of Loss and Renewal, you can find them at www.tmolar.org.

***By the way it MUST be said that I have now spent 10 days pretty much alone in the mountains here in central Italy... so if you think that I am speaking absolute bollocks or would like me to talk more to any specific things/ ideas/ experiences I'm mentioning here then please do let me know. Any questions, resources, knowledge, expertise, debate, comments or concerns for my mental health would be very welcome!! After all, I have time (plenty of it) and would be grateful for the interaction...after I return from my morning walk. Em xxx

Tuesday
Jun262018

Tholos Body House : A love letter to the womb

I am currently on a residency with The Museum of Loss and Renewal in Collemacchia, Molise, Italy. Last week I spent one night "alone" in this Tholos (ancient stone building) in the Mountains of the Abruzzo National Park. It was amazing and I am still finding words with which to process this experience. What I found was that I was absolutely not alone this night. I shared the space with so many creatures I lost count. Below is a draft love letter to the the womb & a selection of my drawings from in and around my night in this beautiful and wild space, all bar one were drawn on location. 

Tholos: Collemacchia, Molise, Italy

Experiential drawing from inside the Tholos, Collemacchia

Roaming. Ritual. I offer my body. I lift my roof to let the light in. I present myself and my intentions. I give you time to process. It feels like you were expecting me inside your sacred niche. A pause. Pregnant with possibility. Friend or foe.  I find a beautiful stone. It fits my hand but its edges are sharp. It could be a weapon. I don’t want to enter this space armed or alarmed. I wait. What now? What was I expecting? Is this crazy? Yes. But why not? I am prepared. For what? I draw. I watch the sun go down. Lines and marks are fast and present. Shadows in the trees retreat to the centre. Hiding in the middle, present in the core. The edges are glowing like anxious halos. Beautiful but weird. Zigzag. This is a big zigzag, yet I am meant to be here. I’ve been here before. I’ll be here again. The cows have been here too, I can smell them. I could put my foot in them if I’m not careful. My body lies with their faeces. My grief is spread with their dung. I have shed my skin, I have lifted my roof, I am in and of this place. Do I wish to colonise? No. I wish to be present in the fabric of time. Folded into the spirit of place. To be welcome, to be safe.

I find another stone. Smooth. This one has been in my hands before, walked a lifetime in a hand. Hand in hand. Palm shaped. Fingers fit the grooves. The stone knows my moves. If I take it with me will I be safe. There is a torch in my left and the smooth stone in my right. I am layered in the skin of another, native to this place. Like an animal that rubs in the scent of the excrement of another, will this act as a disguise? Do I wish to be disguised? No. I want to be known. I want to be safe. I want to know this womb. Room.

The niche contains me. It contains my light, my love and my laughter. My candle, my heart and my banana. I offer these things to you Madonna of the womb, for one night only then we shall see. As the light fades I watch it dance around this dome. It slithers out the opening like a silvery tongue on wet cobblestones. I trace around the niche, half blind, flickering light illuminating the roof of you. You watch me. I watch you. We are encountering one another with caution. I project my love in your direction. What do you make of it? Will I know? I’ll know if I wake and you have been watching over me. You are of this place. You are of this stone. This womb is wrapped around you and contains me for one night only.

As I lay my body down, stone pressing into my spine, I am rigid yet infinitely soft. I clutch my earthly objects ready. Waiting. Light continues to pierce the sky with one sharp point. My body is made of zigzags I dare not move. I want you to know me. I want to know you. I can see you now, multiplied, nestled into every crevice. Patiently clinging to every platform, dark so as to swallow me whole. Yet you don’t. You just watch. You just wait. Like me, we are both waiting here together. For what? We can’t know.

Calm descends, like a soft cloud. Shrouded in a patchwork of love and loss that I have shed. Dread. I don’t dread you but I am on edge. My edges are alert even if my mind is calm. I dare not move. If I do not move I may shatter. My bones are cramped and crisp, the wind on my back tells me I must move. You are still watching and I am animal. If I am animal you can predict my moves. Like an insect that bounces up and down to warn of the coming storm I must-make-a-move. My movements are repetitive, from foetal to front and centre. I want you to predict me. Track me. Down.

Black. I have never really seen black before.  There was always colour in the dark until now. You wrap me in your infinite nothingness. Nothing is everything and everything is nothing. My limits extend to yours and the space between us is ours. Wings enter you and dance like a golden thread, twisting in an exquisite spiral that etches into the front of my mind. Layers of black and gold, this room that now knows me.

You are solid as stone yet as porous skin, paper-thin. You are perfect. I want to be you, but for now I am happy to be in you.

The needle pierces my eye as I wake, still clutching the remnants of yesterday. Soft light enters your opening and I am alive. Madonna you have kept me safe and I thank you. This amphitheatre of arachnids is the mother of all mothers. A place of birth and rebirth that has let me lay my head.

As I exit, all I can see is traces of you. The homes you’ve made to keep your kin safe. Skin. Everything is at your disposal. I am. I give myself to you, mother. 

Anxious landscape before I enter the Tholos for the night, Collemacchia Molise, Italy 

Niche Rock Opera, Tholos, Collemacchia

Morning in the Tholos, blind drawing as the light enters the space: Collemacchia

Morning mist outside the Tholos, food sac dangles from a spiderweb like magic, CollemacchiaMorning drawing outside the Tholos, CollemacchiaThe mothers of this region now know me & they are showing me their beauty.

Thursday
Nov232017

Landscape Artist of the Year 2017 | Sky Arts

To all of you who tuned in to watch Landscape Artist of the Year last night, thank you for being supportive wonder beans. It was certainly an awesome experience to take part in and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have brightened your November just a little bit. If you would like a intimate view inside my studio, you can find me on Instagram as @emilyfongstudio. x

Sunday
May212017

Refined and Elegant Whine

Refined and Elegant Whine : Container Study for a PaintingThis watercolour sketch is a study for a larger oil painting that I'm currently working on in the studio. At my Solo Show in Edinburgh last October I was a cheapskate and fed the punters mulled wine using very classy boxes of 'Australian Shiraz.' I love materials and I love recycling, so I've collected the empty boxes and wine bladders and have started using them as the key material in my recent sculptures. The trouble is now that I can't drink 'boxed wine' fast enough to keep up with the pace of my ideas! If there is anyone who's reading this post that shamelessly loves a glass of goon... please feel free to help a sister out and send me your empty bladders! ;)

This particular empty one was sitting on my kitchen bench for ages, just like this, with the bladder extended and poking out to say hello. After looking at it for ages and letting the image swim around in my mind I decided to draw it to discover why I found it so interesting as a composition. 

"GET YOUR INSIDE OUT!!!" Is what it was screaming at me. Objects actually do speak that loudly to me... Yes I know I'm a bit loopy. I thought it was funny to contrast this loud teenage pitched voice with the text on the box describing this product as Refined and Elegant Wine. HAHA as if.. 

I am not elegant. I am not refined. I'm just a box with a bladder that needs to hang out more often. 

So, my wisdom for the day is that we all have one. Get it OUT! x

 

Tuesday
Apr252017

Reaching beyond the surface

Today was the 4th portrait sitting with Catherine. I feel like we are getting to some place special. Somewhere beyond the surface towards the heart. The challenge for me is to work these studies into a painting that expresses many things, simply. I want to portray the many faces of C that are beautiful, raw, surprising and challenging. There is intense lightness and humor alongside a well of emotion and pain. Humans are containers of experience. We are rich, incredible and in many ways completely unknowable. What a privilege to have this opportunity. Game on Fong.

Stay tuned & thanks for reading, Em x


Live portrait sittings of Catherine (weeks 1 & 4) April 2017

Sunday
Apr232017

All of you


Knotted Tree, Crawford Priory, Cupar Fife Scotland UK 

 

 

 

 

 Automatic full-bodied shiraz, refined and elegant whine, all boxed up and ready to squeeze - empty bag. Get your bladder out, let it hang. All boxes contain one. One. An other, Mother. Father. packaged deal, packaged to deal or no deal. feel. Feel to heal not conceal. Real. Reel it in, letting it out. breathe. breath. Your breadth I desire. All of you, true. All of you, even the blue hue. For the blue and the red make the in-between, all the seen and the unseen. The shades of you. 

24.04.17