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A new artist artist for Fe29

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On the beach with Tanya, opposite her home in Island Bay
On the Beach with Tanya
Hamish at Milbank Gallery where he first introduced us to Marian
Hamish at milbank
5 crates leaving Marian's studio (Paris) headed for Fe29 (Dn, NZ)
Running Man
Marian's 'Plantation' in the Foyer of Fe29
Pousse, Les Petits Pois & other Marian Fountain works in Fe29 Hallway
Pousse & Croissance I
Gallery Back Wall
Gallery to Hall

A new artist artist for Fe29

Fe29 is thrilled to add, New Zealand sculptor and medal artist, Marian Fountain (Paris) to the list of talented artists we represent.

For those who wonder how we came to have Marian’s work in our gallery, it was the result of a series of happy coincidences.

In June this year, we made an unexpected trip up country to meet with artists Tanya Ashken (Island Bay, Wellington) and Hamish Horsley (Wanganui). The purpose, to plan for two exciting Fe29 exhibitions planned for early 2018. More about these later.

Before leaving Dunedin, we decided to take a quick look on-line to identify any artists we might like to catch up with along the way. Marian’s website came up and we were immediately captivated by what we saw. Disappointment set in when we quickly realised that, while she was a Kiwi artist, she actually lived in Paris. Making a note to contact her on our return to Dunedin, we headed off on our first trip since we opened Fe29 in late 2015.

Driving first to Wellington, we enjoyed a number of fabulous days with Tanya Ashken.

Unfortunately our trip coincided with the Lions tour, and the ferries and accommodation were fairly heavily booked, leading us to reconsider our plans to drive to Wanganui. Our initial thoughts were that we should reschedule, however at the last minute we changed our minds which turned out to be a VERY good decision.

Leaving first thing in the morning, we drove to Wanganui, meeting with Hamish at Milbank Gallery where his exhibition was about to close. While we were in the back room talking with Bill (Milbank) about a wonderful artist he represents, Hamish walked in and casually said “Come and meet my friend Marian. She’s over from Paris”. Our mouths dropped open, we looked at each other and then exclaimed in unison “NOT MARIAN FOUNTAIN?”.

“How did you know?” came Hamish’s stunned reply. It turned out that Marian was in New Zealand for her mother’s 90th birthday. Hamish made the introductions, explaining that we had Fe29 Gallery in Dunedin, where he planned to exhibit his work in late 2017. A plan for Marian to fly to Dunedin to check us out, was quickly hatched over afternoon tea at one of the local cafés. A week or so later, she was in our gallery, walking us through her website. Weeks passed as we agonised over which works to select for an exhibition. We needed the works to hang together, but also wanted to show some of the diversity contained in the 500+ works Marian has created over the past 33+ years.

Finally works were ordered, packaged and 5 crates left Marian’s studio in Paris via the running man. A week later the 5 crates, containing 53 stunning Marian Fountain sculptures, medals and bas-reliefs arrived at Fe29, Dunedin. This was quickly followed by a further 7 medals, bringing the total to 60. Unpacking the crates, we felt like small children at Christmas. There were many exclamations of delight as each work opened proved to be even more beautiful in person than in pictures. Over the next couple of weeks, stands and cabinets were prepared and on October 7th, we opened the exhibition “In Our Hands“, Marian Fountain (a Kiwi in Paris).

The exhibition will run until the 8th November, so don’t miss seeing these incredible works. Also check out the article on the Marian and the exhibition in this weeks Arts Page of the Otago Daily times.

Marian at Home
Working on The Earth Remembers
World Climate Change
Island Timer
Ancestral Remote

Forging a Career in Paris – Marian Fountain at Fe29

Featured on the Arts page of the Otago Daily Times, Thursday, October 12, 2017

Paris based New Zealand artist, Marian Fountain’s works are being exhibited at Fe29 Gallery in St Clair this month. As she explains to Rebecca Fox, one of her greatest honours has been to create a bronze monument as a tribute to New Zealand tunnellers in World War I, in Arras France.

Q Is there any particular work or series of work that is a favourite or stands out for you? 

‘The Earth Remembers’ monument stands out for me because it was made for the people of NZ and France about our common history, and it will live it’s own life from now on.

Q – What did it mean to you to be commissioned to make a statue to  mark the First World War centenary commemorations at the Carrière Wellington Museum, Arras, France? 

It was a huge honour and responsibility. Finding the idea took time but once it was there it was complete and nothing needed changing. Immersing myself in the subject of WWI was very subduing, I took my role – of representing the people who suffered and the need to condemn war – very seriously. It was a 4 year process and the fabrication itself took 22 months.

Q – Where did you grow up?

In Papatoetoe, South Auckland. We lived off the garden which had 36 varieties of fruit, there were vegetables, chickens, and the occasional lamb. When I was 7yrs the family moved to Whanganui where I stayed till returning to Auckland to go to art school.

Q – Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? How did that evolve?

As a young child I was often wrapped up in observing a leaf or stick, creating scenarios with objects. The sense of wonder has always been there, I felt that a scientific career would inevitably become too specialised, and that by making art I could discover more about the universe and our existence by playing with juxtaposing ideas.

Q – How did you come upon sculpture and medal making?

Professor Beadle at Elam School of Fine Art introduced me to his techniques in his fascinating world of working with wax.  As he became too ill to work he passed on some commissions to me : portrait plaques of the former deans of the art school, and a sundial for Auckland Medical School. So the first year after art school was a formative time for learning how to create art work in the real world.

Q – What is it about these arts that have grabbed you and hold you?

Bronze is a material which has a rich history in many cultures through time. Making sculptures with this age-old process seems to bridge time, informing us at once of our present and our distant ancestral past.

In the process of making a sculpture I mainly work with plasticine, wax and plaster. They are natural materials which are pleasing to manipulate, not toxic. The negative and positive steps in mold making add more stages in which to intervene, building up a situation of many creative possibilities.

I work alternately between small and large scale: a large work is concerned with form and presence, whereas a hand-held object lends itself to a more narrative intimacy, whereby one can hone in to the microcosm as though looking through a microscope, to find out about the nature of something.

Q – How has your work developed over the years?

Arriving in Europe in 1984, the multitude of cultures, styles and eras led me to look for a certain essence or universality. A period of museum research ensued, culminating in an exhibition at the Museo Archeologico di Milano, where I exhibited in the Etruscan room, proposing a series of objects from a ‘yet undiscovered’ or ‘possible’ culture.

In contact with contemporary artists in Eastern Europe during the early 90’s, my work underwent a transformation, and ‘metamorphic’ tendencies evolved in direct response to shifting politics and the changing situation for Eastern-bloc artists. With the series of ‘beings in transition’ I was analysing the actual structure of change.  At this moment I got ‘out of the museums and into the subconscious’.

The Remote Control series (2000 – 2010) looks at our evolving relationship to touch and form in our everyday lives, with levers and buttons replaced by touch screens.

Q – What is it like making medals for things like commonwealth games etc?

First I try to imagine the spirit of the finished object, then brainstorm the possible aspects of the subject by drawing a lot of possible scenarios. It’s then often a process of elimination to hone down the design to a satisfying whole.

Q – How is technology impacting on casting in bronze if at all?

I’m starting to use 3D printing for making some effects at the model stage. The actual casting process is age-old, but foundries in the Paris region are becoming scarce.

Q – Why move to Europe and settle in Paris?

I was attributed a QEII Arts Council Grant in 1984 to study foundry techniques in Europe,  first training at the Italian Mint School in Rome before living for a time in London. In my travels Paris became a mid-way point that became more and more essential, I made friends here and took up the opportunity for free studio space.

Q – What do you like about living in Paris?

Everyday conversations here have always been inspiring. I’ve lived in 3 different neighbourhoods each with their own particular feel and history, and there will always be more to discover. The diversity and resilience of Parisians inspires confidence.

Q – What is a ”normal” day like for you?

Every day is different, starting with meditation I then get on with the most urgent thing whether it be the project or sculpture at hand, meeting people or administration, with exhibition visits and communal gardening whenever possible.

Q – How does your NZ background influence your work?

Nature and the land is our life-source.  It’s enriching to have grown up in contact with the Maori culture : the presence of another world view from that of Europe, with different creation stories, customs, understanding of nature and the land, language …and reasons for making art. Resourcefulness and creativity are alive and well in NZ.

Q – Would you ever come home to NZ for good?

I live in the present.

Ishmael showing us his giant "purse".
A giant handbag adorned with baby handbags.
The Purse
Ishmael and Cecilia discussing one of his numerous kilns.
At the Kiln
Sculpture display space in his very large and well lit studio.
In the Studio
Along the route from his studio to his hand-built home (the third one on his 50-acre place)
Ishmael & C Walking
Taken from the cat-walk in his house. Check out all the ceramics on his kitchen counter!
Ishmael Making Lunch
One of the wonderful sculptures Ishmael sent us home with.

Our visit to Ishmael Soto’s studio and home in Blue, TX

Sculptor Ishmael Soto and ceramicist Julie Isaacson came to see us at our Satellite Gallery in Austin. We all hit it off fabulously and so were invited to visit Ishmael at his home and studio in Blue (near Lexington). Ishmael has developed quite a compound for himself and his very large family. He hand-built three homes on his +-50 acre place in the woods and has a wonderful and serene lifestyle that he willingly shared with Cecilia and I.  We spent most of a day touring and admiring his artworks, kilns, gardens, books, knives and homes. He even cooked us lunch, which is apparently not a common event. We had the privilege of seeing some of the treasured works he has produced over many years, and uses in his day to day life. It was such a treat. To top off this wonderful day, Ish agreed to let Fe29 represent him and we all three worked in the rain, to fill up our entire truck with as many sculptures as would fit to bring back to Wimberley for our opening that is scheduled for late July/early August. It was like Christmas when we returned to the Art Lab and began unpacking and arranging his works. They look so good among the other pieces and we feel privileged to be representing such an icon.

At 80 years old, Ish was more than a little skeptical when Cecilia asked him to consider collaborating with another of our metal artists.  The look on his face was priceless when she first brought up the subject, but she proceeded to hand over to him a favorite unfinished work. The artist had made numerous unsuccessful attempts to finish the work and hoped that Ishmael may just have what it takes to turn it into something they can both be proud of. While Ishmael has stated more than once that he doesn’t do collaborations, as a little more time has passed, he seems to be warming up to the idea. Last time we met with him at ACC he mentioned something about putting it through the roller, so, watch this space for his first collaboration. I think this old dog will be learning a few new tricks!


Opening Night 7
Opening Night 4
Opening Night 1
Opening Night 9
Opening Night 2
Opening Night 8
Opening Night 5

FIRST LIGHT: Opening Reception Photos!

The opening reception for “First Light”, the Fe29 debut exhibition in the US, was a great success. Over 100 guests  enjoyed good food, good company and of course, great art! Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, as evidenced by the many guests who spilled out onto the street and partied until late into the night. Thank you all for taking the time to help us celebrate.

We would also like to thank those who helped us with the exhibition and made this a night to remember. Firstly our landlord Cid Galindo who not only allowed us to use his beautiful office space for this event but was kind enough to open up his living quarters to make the caterer’s job more pleasant.  Not only is Cid very generous but he also makes good conversation and is a great party guest!

We would also like to thank Glazer’s for their very generous gift of some very good wine, which was enjoyed by all, David and Pam Taylor who did a great job catering; Lenore Avant and John Gallagher for helping us set up; Paul Beck from Paul Beck Productions who went out of his way to pull together a  track of sounds from the workshop after a last minute request; Benjamin Slade & Adam Rasmus for not only designing the invitation but also for going out of their way to ensure we had signage, a slide show, etc for the night.

We look forward to seeing you all at our next exhibition. Watch this space.