MiAL Insight Interview: Fiona Masterton

In our first of this summer’s MiAL Insight Interviews, we’re chatting with artist Fiona Masterton on life past, present and future with Made in Arts London…

Fiona Masterton in her studio

Fiona Masterton in her studio

First, could you give a brief introduction to yourself and your practice and how you came to be at UAL?

I graduated from Wimbledon College of Arts in 2014 in BA (Hons) Painting.

Prior to being a UAL student I was a stay at home mum and prior to this I was an IT business consultant in the city. I was always making art during both these periods of my life and then a friend encouraged me to push the art further by undertaking a degree in the subject.

My art practice primarily combines photographic digital montage and paint. I am interested in the relationship between painting and photography, the authorial and the mechanical, reality and the imagination. There is no doubt my IT background influences my art. I see patterns and rhythms in the processes that I use and in the marks that I make digitally. I like to emulate and embellish these marks with paint to create numerous points of departure.  I am currently experimenting with a variety of mark making materials and different kinds of surfaces.

What drew you to join MiAL?

Fiona Masterton, Discretion

Fiona Masterton, Discretion

I had seen opportunities from MIAL in the past but never thought my work would be what they were after – I incorrectly thought they were just interested in design and product based art.  However, the opportunity for the Spring/Summer selection caught my eye and I had some new work which I thought they could possibly be interested in. It didn’t cost me anything to give it a go and it’s a not for profit organisation – so I thought why not?!

You recently exhibited at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead, and were kind enough to spend time at the fair representing MiAL, how have experiences like these affected your approach to working?

I saw my time helping out at the AAF to be very helpful and a lot of fun as well!

An Art Fair is obviously a different kind of animal to a singular art exhibition, its overall purpose is commercially based. There are also many more different types of people who go (and at AAF – many with their dogs!) which meant we knew it was going to be crowded and kind of hectic- all this has to be taken into account when displaying the art work.

Unless an artist can sometimes be on the front line, so to speak, how can you truly know how your art is responded to? Being present at AAF, I got to see not only how a fair like this is organised, but also how a wide variety of people react to the vast array of art and also what works the different galleries involved in the fair had chosen to display and how they did this.

Fiona Masterton, Untitled (From the 'Urban Desire' Series)

Fiona Masterton, Untitled (From the ‘Urban Desire’ Series

Time to be honest- what has been the best and the worst experience as a MiAL Artist?

The best experience was when I first got that email saying my work had been selected, as I had taken a bit of a gamble and submitted work which was a little different to what I usually produce (smaller and more collage and object based).  Then when I got the feedback from the selection panel who wonderfully understood and ‘got’ the whole premise about my work – that was a good feeling.

Fiona Masterton's work displayed at Capsule

Fiona Masterton’s work displayed at Capsule

Of course to be selected for Capsule and AAF was just great (and to have sold 2 out of 3 works – yahoo!!)

Last but certainly not least to have been the recipient of the 2015 Cass Arts Materials Bursary was just brilliant news!

The worst experience? – well it’s not really a bad experience, more a frustration. There are so many talks and events that MiAL organise and one really has to be top of Facebook and Twitter to keep up with them. If you follow lots of other organisations on these social media sites, then it’s easy to miss them completely!

Having just graduated in 2014 and had a year to establish yourself as a professional artist, what sort of advice would you give to someone just coming out of UAL now?

Be proactive. Try to form a plan of what you want to do and how you are going to do this. Read your emails, Twitter, Facebook, Artquest, A-N website and other art-orientated websites for potential opportunities to exhibit and develop your art. Don’t go for everything – it will cost a fortune. But be a bit tactical – have a look if you can at what the purpose and premise of the organisation is and put forward your most suitable work that fits their profile. Remain true to your art and your practice though. Carry on experimenting and making art, keep going to new exhibitions – most of them are free so there is no excuse and the educational and mind opening benefits they unconsciously give you are tenfold!

Fiona Masterton, The Touch of a City

Fiona Masterton, The Touch of a City

Would you recommend joining MiAL?

Yes, of course!

The submission process itself is extremely useful for getting independent and constructive feedback on your work. Unlike alot of creative opportunities you don’t have to pay to have a go, so really – why not? There are opportunities throughout the year that you may be involved in and at the very least lots of useful talks and seminars.

The organisation and communication is clear, making it a professional, fair and easy organisation to deal with. The attention to detail is also very good which gives an artist confidence that everything has been thought through properly. It will undoubtedly teach you something, plus you will get some great exposure to your art on their website, social media sites, and potentially in exhibitions – plus you will meet some great new people!

Finally, what are you currently working on and where do you see yourself and your practice going next?

Fiona Masterton, Sicily Spray

Fiona Masterton, Sicily Spray

I have been working quite slowly on things lately and producing art more in series. This includes 3 rather large digital montages and oil paint on canvas which I call my ‘Strange Creature’ series – these have been very time-consuming. I have also been playing around with the idea of transferring some of myphotographs of transient moments onto found surfaces. I have taken to being a bit of a scavenger and picking up all sorts of bits and pieces as I wander around the urban environment with a view to using them in my art. I also plan to get back to basics and produce some pen and ink drawings and some oilpainting; pure and simple. I would also like to produce some C-type prints as I sometimes like to work just with my digital images and would like to keep the final pieces crisp, simple and unencumbered.

Fiona has been the recipient of: Saatchi New Sensations 2014 (long-listed), National Open Art 2014 (long-listed), Signature Art Prize 2015 (long-listed), A&N Degree Show Guide 2014, Cass Art Materials Bursary 2015.