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The Lumps, Bumps & Birds of Fiona Roderick

InterviewsMichelle Kistima-MenserComment

With the “lumps & bumps of the urban environment” and the dramatic coastal landscape of South Wales inspiring her work, Fiona Roderick is carving, printing & cutting out a unique style of working. From her Marrickville studio in Sydney, she brings to life her interests in texture, shape and colour through her lino prints, collages and digitally printed tea towels reflecting her love of nature and the urban environment.

I first met Fiona at the Winter @ The Warey market in Annandale, here in Sydney last year. Her affinity with the natural world immediately intrigued my interest.  I was especially drawn to her prints of native Australian birds because of her unique use of colour and texture. These prints also appear on cards, calendars and tea towels which make her art totally accessible to everyone.

So finally, a few weeks ago, I got the chance to visit Fiona at her wonderful shared studio and catch a glimpse of how she works. We chatted about lots of things over some cooling juice and fruit. I came away completely inspired by her work processes and her diverse influences and life experiences.

Here’s that interview … I hope you enjoy it?



What is the state of the creative community right now? Has it changed from say 10-15 years ago?

I think the state of the creative community is so good, and becoming healthier all the time. The web & social media is making art more accessible to more people through things like Instagram, Pinterest & Etsy. Everyone is sharing ideas and I think that's a good thing.

And technology such as digital printing has transformed craft and the public are able to buy original, not too expensive, design and art for their home, less mass produced and technology has certainly helped that.

What were you doing before you started printmaking?

I began working as a visual merchandiser in a major department store in London & trained as a graphic designer when I moved to Sydney. I even found myself art directing a surf magazine! Later I did a part time printmaking course at Pine Street Creative Arts and for the last 10 years or so I’ve been working as a print maker, now full-time. During all this I raised a family.

What is it about print making that drew you & continues to inspire you?

I enjoy the carving process and thinking how translate the image onto the lino, and how to present it as a print. The experience of printing is always exciting, the thrill of the unknown, the first sight of the new print as it appears from the press. I think where I am now is, enjoying cutting up my prints and these days drawn to collage a bit more. At the moment I love cutting with scissors and drawing, that hand and brain connection. Of course I needed to have those years of printing to have the resources of proofs and all the lino plates I have now to use as reference for the collage. The experience of printing has given me the confidence of experimenting with the medium.



What inspires your aesthetic & why?

This is a hard question!

Living in the city, the urban environment is inspiring with all its lumps, bumps & textures. Peeling paint and paper for example.

Also shapes and shadows of flora & fauna inspire me. I grew up in South Wales, UK & spent my childhood riding my horse in the countryside. Where I grew up was very dramatic and unspoiled, on the coast of the Bristol channel, with beaches, cliffs, sand dunes, and rivers to ride long and through.  My mother was also a very creative woman, a great gardener, flower arranger, a patch worker and always making something. I remember arriving home one day, and she had just been to a water colour class and she was so thrilled and excited about it.





I know shape also determines my aesthetic. I was thinking the other day how all my jobs have been working within the perimeters of a square, I am always looking for balance and space within that square.

Who inspires you? Why?

Picasso & Matisse for their use of colour and line with freedom. The colours Bonnard used. I recently saw the Grayson Perry exhibition at the MCA and Gibert & George exhibition (MONA) … inspiring stuff. There is a collaboration of print makers in the UK, called St Jude, representing Angie Lewin, Johnny Hannah & Mark Herald.

The building where my studio is, houses various artists, ranging from jewellers, set designers, painters. It's quite inspiring ... a dedicated group of people all creating different things. It helps to be with people who are disciplined, this helps you to do the same.

Being a self-employed creative can seem idyllic from the outside. What’s the hardest part of your job? And how do you over come it?

I think the hardest part of the job is to keep being motivated, as you have no one telling you what to do, it really is believing in yourself. Sometimes the life can be a touch isolating. I try to arrange overcome it by meeting friends for coffee and I enjoy selling at the markets because it is social and its so lovely to meet my customers. Yoga, meditation and walking helps my mind I think, not being distracted and to keep on working and being focused.

Fiona Roderick

What is your proudest career achievement?

I think my bird prints are my proudest achievement. I’m thrilled at how people are captivated by them & are happy to buy them for a bird lover in their life or to send them around the world as gifts.

Its an amazing feeling to know my birds are hanging or being used around the world, drying all kinds of dishes!.



What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do?

My daughter reminded me about the time I once had a spare ticket to a Rolling Stones concert and asked a stranger on the London tube to come with me! (She laughs!)

Otherwise I think I haven't done anything dangerous besides leaving Wales at 16 to go to live in London, and later on travelling by myself in the Middle East.  No internet or emails then, I remember my mother and father travelling to a radio station in Swansea to talk to me on the radio. On the buses in Israel, there were guns sliding down the middle of the bus from the Israeli army and you wouldn't blink an eye about it. Later I went on to living in Amsterdam, on a boat on one of the canals, working in a cafe. The cafe was run by a woman from New Zealand, with all female staff, we certainly had some interesting customers.

What’s new & on the horizon for Fiona Roderick? What are you looking forward to in 2016? And beyond?

I am part of a group show at the Balmain Watch House,179 Darling Street, Balmain on June 2nd and 3rd.

More bird prints. I am enjoying experimenting with different mediums, such as pressed flowers, paper, wood & ink, combining them with my prints.



You can find out more about Fiona Roderick & her work at her website Her native bird tea towel series is also available at The Creatory, in Summer Hill Sydney

* Photos courtesy of Fiona Roderick