FIONA TOWNEND

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Fiona Townend

ABOUT MY WORK

My work brings together writing, video and sculptural objects to open up a provocative space in which complex intersections between gender politics, power, creativity and motherhood are critically examined. I use the processes of hiding and revealing, both literally and metaphorically, to articulate the attempt to control how much of the ‘self’ we present to the world and how much we keep hidden. The palpable tension between the fear of exposure versus the powerlessness of being invisible, is exposed in my work.


I use the business of family life to question personal and socio-political power structures relating to caring with its demands of time, repetition and relentlessness. My work also operates as an investigation into how family life can express and suppress individual and collective needs and desires. Folded towels, dirty bedclothes, interactions with family, the action of running; all are subject to the gaze of the camera, as I portray my own interior and exterior worlds of artist and mother. I investigate family dynamics as the most fundamental crucible of identity and as a vehicle for self-examination- a means to construct self-knowledge through relationships. Engaging with the central theme of the public and private space, the space of the family and the space of art, I place the intimate, familial and everyday, as the material of art, thus subverting the traditional idea of artist as outsider.

FILM AND POETRY

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THE BUSINESS OF MOTHERING

A publication of 100 poems on playing cards, 2017

We went to the zoo

To watch the animals

Watch us

Acting out their family life.

THE PROBLEM

There was a lot of noise from upstairs,

The cat was chasing a mouse,

He had carried it to our bedroom in his mouth,

I didn't sleep well and in the morning,

The cat and the mouse were in the kitchen together.

My son shut the cat in the other room

While I opened the back door and

Wished the mouse would find its freedom.

But my daughter told me I would have to pick it up,

You can't watch and do nothing she said.

MORE

Don't ask me for more

The minute I sit down

More drinks, more food, more money,

More attention, more tv,

More love, more discipline,

I would like time off from controlling

What you consume

Monitoring how I behave

So go on, don't ask, just help yourself.

TULIPS

A gift from Florence Nightingale
This companion species
With its striking blooms
Dead in my vase
Demanding more care 
Than I can give.

MY DAUGHTER

"I'm special."
She says.
"You are."
I say.
Believe
In love
My gift to you.

EMILY DICKINSON

DEPRESSION AT THE ZOO

We went to the zoo

To watch the animals

Watch us

Acting out their family life.

When I read about your life

On Wikipedia
I cried
Because I wanted to sit outside
In the sunshine

With you.

 

LENGTH OF CHILDHOOD

Five fox cubs

Playing in the garden

With their siblings

Late at night

Suckling as they run along

Does she know when they will leave her?

MAKING A MEAL OF IT

The process of making (art) always involves:

Considering,

Planning,

Counting,

Deciding,

Scribbling,

Journeying,

Selecting,

Placing, 

Paying,

Returning,

Unpacking,

Putting in the fridge,

Timing,

Preheating,

Washing,

Preparing,

Chopping,

Boiling,

Stirring,

Seasoning,

Cooking,

Tasting,

Coordinating,

Checking,

Serving up,

Calling everyone,

Waiting,

Eating

And clearing up.

EMILY DICKINSON

 

FILM

EXHIBITIONS AND PROJECTS

              

2018

  • "Garden City" Dartford Commission - series of creative writing projects at Ebbsfleet Academy culminating in a publication, in collaboration with sound and film artist Nadia Perrotta

  • "The House of Beautifully Earned Trust" , Whitstable Biennale- film screening and collaborative live performance organised by Adam Chodzko as part of Muster Station collective

  • "the gates of Limbo" - exhibition and publication at Limbo, Margate, as part of Turner Contemporary's exhibition on T.S. Eliot's     "the waste land"

 

2017

  • One of 6 selected writers for Arts Council funded writing development scheme in Medway,"Confluence"

 

  • End of Year Show, group exhibition at Nucleus Arts, Chatham

  • “The 70, 273 Project” – leader of workshops at local schools as part of a worldwide collaborative art project, to be exhibited in Lincoln, Rochester and Durham cathedrals in January 2018.

  • Participant of Peer Mentoring group “Labours of Love” led by Rose Gibbs, bringing 12 artists, researchers and designers together to consider affective labour and the physical and legal conditions in which it takes in relation to artistic practice. Cubitt Gallery, London. https://sites.google.com/view/laboursoflovecareworkartwork/home

  • Participant of Feminist Duration Reading Group led by Helena Reckitt, SPACE gallery, London. 

  • Stour Valley Arts residency funded by University of Kent (resulting in a publication)

                        

  • “Metabody” – collaborator in live performance / ontohacking workshops led by international artist and philosopher Jaime del Val.

  • “Reverberate”, Degree Show, University of Kent

 

2016 

  • Degree Show, University of Kent

 

  • “Silent Disco” - Group exhibition, Studio 3, Jarman Building, University of Canterbury

 

  • “Of the Sea” - Exhibition of selected international artists, Chatham Dockyard

 

2015

  • “In the Dock” – Exhibition of selected artists from West Kent College

EXHIBITIONS AND PROJECTS

EXHIBITIONS AND PROJECTS

"Acts 1-3" (11 mins)

A film in 3 parts: Act 1 shows snippets of family life from behind the screen of a sheet drying on the washing line. Act 2 is a theatrically staged reading of poems at the kitchen table. Act 3 shows the bed being made by a child. 

"The Reading"

Documentation of the reading of poems "The Business of Mothering" (without an audience). In the actual performances, members of the audience read poems they selected from the deck of cards.

I.N.V.I.S.I.B.L.E

“All at Sea” Exhibition at Chatham Dockyard, selected international artists, 2016.

Self-portrait signalling the word “Invisible” using semaphore with towels, in front of the Chatham Dockyard Sail Loft where women worked to make sails. The photograph is displayed with the original Ledger containing the names of the people who worked in the Dockyard from 1884.

 
 
 

"Together or Apart?”

Words signalled by flags using the International Code of Signals

(Degree Show, Dockyard 2016),

 

"Communicate with Me”

Visual signal used by ships to communicate this message

in over 10 languages - bath towels used instead of flags

(Degree Show, Dockyard 2016)

CV

Fiona Townend

EDUCATION

2015-17                      MA Fine Art, First Class, School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent        

1998-99                     PGCE Primary, Institute of Education, University College London

1992-93                     MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London               

1989-92                     BA Fine Art, First Class, Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford University

1990                            3 month Art Residency Scholarship, San Francisco Art Institute

1988-89                     Leith School of Art, Edinburgh

                       

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

2017 currently           Gallery steward, Tonbridge School 

2014-2015                Education advisor and invigilator, Mascalls Gallery, Paddock Wood

2006-2017               Full-time mum to my three children

                                     Leader of local toddler group and reader and artworker at local primary school

Primary Teacher:

2001-2005              Year 2 class teacher and English co-ordinator, Heathbrook Primary School, Lambeth 

1999-2000               Year 1 class teacher and ICT co-ordinator, Bangabandhu Primary, Bethnal Green

Community Artworker/ Artist-educator:

1998                            Museum of the Moving Image - Artist running design project with Lambeth schools

1998                            Museum of London, Artworker running workshops for children under five

1998                            3 month artist’s residency at Southern Grove Primary School, Newham

1997-98                     Livesey Museum, Southwark -Artist running a series of workshops with primary schools

1997-98                     Chisenhale Gallery, Tower Hamlets:

                                     Artist leading a series of workshops and INSETs with Newham primary schools.

                                     Artist involved in collaborative project for a year with eight SEN schools in Tower Hamlets

1997-98                     Sutton House, Hackney - Artist leading art workshops for children under twelve

1997-98                     Ragged School Museum, Tower Hamlets, Community artworker running workshops

                                     Artist designing and installing “Bringing the Seaside to Tower Hamlets”

1997-98                     Geffrye Museum, Hackney - Community artworker leading art workshops for families

1997                            Cumin Museum, Southwark - Artworker running art workshops for children under twelve

1997                            New Learning Centre, North London -Artist leading workshops for pupils at SEN school

1997                            Delfina Studio Trust- Artist leading a series of art workshops and INSETs for schools

Editor:

1993-97                     Dorling Kindersley Publishing, London

                                     Managing Editor and author of children’s books, audio-packs and activity books for children

1992                            Museum of Modern Art, Oxford - Member of exhibition installation team.

1991                             Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh  - Gallery invigilator.

"My Plimsoll Line”

A Plimsoll Line is marked on every ship to show the level of baggage or cargo it can safely carry. My Plimsoll Line was drawn in Chatham Dockyard, over a period of weeks, to chart my anxiety level while working there, 2016

 

2018   EXHIBITIONS AND PROJECTS

Group show,Nucleus Arts, Chatham

Stour Valley Residency

publication of poems and photos

Heidegger's Unconcealment of the Truth

I went away on my own,

To work in the forest.

But I forgot the radio and milk

So I had to face myself instead

And it wasn't the work I had planned.

Work in Paddock Wood Primary and exhibition at Rochester Cathedral

"Untitled" - collection of 100 discarded shopping lists printed and displayed as postcards to be returned to the supermarket

"Project 70, 273"

Tate Exchange

(click on link at top of page)

"Muster Station" exhibition on the theme of production (in collaboration with Whitstable Biennale)

 

Having sent out food questionnaires for all participants, I prepared a menu based on nutritional demands, likes and dislikes titled "what artists eat". Food was prepared and shared for the duration of the show. 

On the theme of self-care, I also led some drop-in yoga/semaphore sessions in which participants signalled the word "Anxiety" and the poses were chosen to calm anxiety.

Anagrams of the Tate Exchange

(And understanding methodology)

 

Hang that tat

Cheat the neat

Tea at the tent

Gent at the teat

Can he

Axe the heat

Of the extent

Hang the extant tax

Neatened chat

Hat tang

Cat gene

Get the net

The gate

The Tate.

"the gates of Limbo", Limbo, Margate

A publication of poems, images and text relating to exhibiting work and shame contained in a leaflet dispenser and a red heart graffitied on the gates of Limbo. (This exhibition was linked to the Turner Contemporary's exhibition on T.S. Eliot's "the waste land".)

On how to present my text

Just flowing like notes

on the wall, across the floor

Out the door and down the street.

Or as a pamphlet:

a small book or leaflet containing information or 

arguments about a single subject

the difference of responsibility between jetsam and flotsam.

Materiality

the texture of my shame

is similar to that of tripe

with a cat’s rough tongue full of lies.

Verisimilitude

I superglued it together

And thought no one would notice.

"Cuttlefish Bones" Whitstable Biennale

A  collaborative photographic and text project with artist Nadia Perrotta, to produce a walking trail around Whitstable - a fusion of poetic text, domestic mini tales and photographs of the unnoticed.

CURRENT WORK

I am currently working on:

  • a publication "Rock, Paper, Scissors" of 90 poems as stamp-sized stickers 

  • drawings from dinner plates and pizza packaging as part of "phases of the moon" chart for each month (thinking about sustenance, nurturing and care within the family and our wider community)

Portrait - plate, drawing of phase of the moon, blackboard paint and chalk notes

Behaviour chart- tally chart with pizza packaging

Phases of the moon (February meals 2018)

"Rock, Paper, Scissors”

Poetry publication

(to be distributed in public places)

A Perfect Response

And I wondered if it was easier to issue an edict

No feedback permitted on how I look,

Cook, clean, speak, live my life,

But I wasn't sure what they would say to me.

 Reshuffle the cards

 

We are standing in the street

Please keep your voices down,

my youngest daughter pleads

Everyone in the street is staring,

(there is no one there)

And shame goads us on

Two eldest daughters outside Costa

struggling to protect themselves.

.

The Charge of Caregivers

 

attunement,

rhythmic actions

to synch

with your brain

for communal pleasure

and collaboration in social systems

a powerful survival strategy

with an encoded map.

The houseplant (from B&Q) 

It was growing fast and I was happy

 I fed it an indoor liquid feed

And the cats continued to use it as a litter tray.

The plant’s looking good

Everyone said

And I smiled.

Its leaves were touching the window now

And in my dreams

It supersized and burst through

To feel real air on its skin.

But in reality, it slipped its tendrils

Through the keyhole of the front door

To see if it was worth the trouble.

Contact

Address

Paddock Wood, Tonbridge TN12, UK

©2017 BY FIONA TOWNEND. PROUDLY CREATED WITH WIX.COM