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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.

Marian in her first official squat - a home and studio in Montmartre
Marian Fountain 1
Home and studio No. 2 - 400 m2 of factory space in the centre of Paris
Marian at work and at rest surrounded by some of her bas-reliefs
Marian at work and at rest
Marian's morning for work on the school rooftop garden
Marian school rooftop garden
A sense of touch shared with our ancestors
Ancestrl Remote

Featured Artist Marian Fountain

MARIAN FOUNTAIN – Sculptor & medal artist

Marian Fountain is a New Zealand artist who has lived in Paris for 22 years and returns regularly to the country of her birth. She takes her inspiration from simple and recognisable forms in nature: a fish, a leaf, a pea pod – food from the earth. And on the surface of these forms the traces of underlying life – movement and energy are evoked with fine reliefs of waves, camouflages or tattoo. Her work has been exhibited at the British Museum, The National Gallery of Scotland, the Museo Archeologico of Milan, York Museum, Auckland Museum, and the French Mint. Some of her creations include the winners’ medals for the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and the America’s Cup in 2003, and the “Entente Cordiale” centenary medal in 2004.

Fountain currently lives in an ‘atelier d’artiste de la Ville de Paris’ (social housing for artists), which was provided for her in 2008. Up until that time, from the time she arrived in Paris (1991), she had been living in official squats. For the first eight years, she was  in a little house built in 1900 in Montmartre with no bathroom and an outside toilet. Conditions were very ‘bohème’ but the garden cascaded down three terraces to the Bateau Lavoir at the bottom. ” The little house felt like the Grandma of Paris so I had an open-door policy and met Parisians that way.”

For the next eight years she lived in a 400m2 factory space in the centre of Paris, and there too it was open door with people using
the downstairs area for theatre, music and various courses. “In 2000 we held ‘Picnicart’ parties every month where people bought
their own food and five or six artists exhibited.”

She is happy now to have her own workshop and living space with a garden at the end of a grassy courtyard. “I have been extremely
lucky to be able to work outside and to have had three gardens and sky in Paris.”

First experiences with bronze casting – “It was actually a piece of wood that introduced me to the foundry. I was in my second year at art school studying design and sculpture. In the wood workshop on the first floor, a small piece of wood that I was trying to mill, shot out of its clamp and nearly took my stomach out on its fast trajectory towards the window, which luckily was open. Rather shaken, I went outside to look for the wood and came across David Reid, who ran the foundry in the courtyard. Then and there he started showing me the process of simply burying polystyrene and pouring metal into it : the simplest of molds/casts. I was immediately hooked. Somehow it seemed to me a more ‘balanced’ process than the violent machines often used to manipulate wood. And it seemed you could create something from scratch.

An opportunity to go to Italy and receive training at the Rome Mint – “I’ve been involved with the British Art Medal Society since 1984, attending weekends most years which provide a fantastic opportunity to visit museums with curators, around the UK and on the continent. During an international congress (FIDEM) dinner in 1984 in Stockholm, I met the person in charge of medals at FAO in Rome, who helped me apply for the school at the Rome Mint. There were no fees but I plunged into Roman life, earning my own living and also making enough work to exhibit in a gallery on the Spanish Steps. I was involved with a family who cast sculptures in their foundry on the seventh floor of the medieval tower where they lived. It was fantastic to have first-hand experience of the artistic and artisanal traditions in Italy.”

A sense of touch shared with our ancestors – “It’s a thrill when sculpting to feel in touch with the artisan ancestors by repeating exactly the same manual gestures, understanding better how many artefacts from the plethora of cultures and eras were made. Through practice, the hand-eye coordination blends the conscious and the unconscious, and we begin to feel part of the collective lake of consciousness. I feel that creating things with the hands is like keeping the sap flowing through the branches and roots of a plant, keeping the organism (myself and the community) alive and healthy.” Fountain’s Ancestral Remote is reminiscent of Maori rakau whakapapa (used as a mnemonic aid to Maori elders reciting long genealogical histories).

Bridging Time - ” Bronze is a material which has a rich history in many cultures through time. Making sculptures from it seems to bridge time, informing us at once of our present and our distant ancestral past, and emphasizing that the present is but a notch in time. 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, and furthermore the negative and positive steps in mold-making add more stages in which to intervene, building up a situation of many creative possibilities.

See how Marian Fountain came to exhibit in Fe29 Gallery, and learn more about Marian and her works.





Fe29 at the Westlake Artisans Market

Fe29 supports the “Artisan Handmade Market” hosted by The Pottery Dept. at Westlake High to benefit The Eanes Education Foundation. Fe29 will be there to lend our support and showcase our collaborative initiatives designed to aid the development and promotion of artists and facilitate global and cross-cultural awareness through arts. Thanks to Dawn Delgado and the Westlake High school for providing space and other resources.

Saturday Dec. 1, 2012 from 10 AM to 6 PM
Sunday Dec. 2, 2012 from 12 PM to 5 PM
Westlake High, 4100 Westbank Drive, Austin, TX
Cecilia's first large pieces
commissioned for son Karl's new restaurant.
Fe29 - Servery Surround
Karl (centre) in Te Tawara o Wanaka kitchen.
Fe29 - Karl in Kitchen
Inside son Karl's Te Tawara o Wanaka,
next door to his Cafe Fe.
Fe29 - Fire surround
Karl & chef friends at cook off in Wanaka, NZ.
Fe29 Karl & friends

So, what is behind the name Fe29?

After deciding the image we wanted for the business, considerable effort was expended coming up with a name that would represent who and what we were. After much investigation and debate we settled on Fe29.

Many of you will recognize that the Fe probably stands for Iron, but what about the 29?  Well for those that thought we’d got the number wrong (26 is the atomic number for Iron), 29 is the atomic number for copper. But still, why Fe29?

The answer is not quite as simple as it may appear. Yes iron and copper are two of the metals included in many of Fe29′s first works. But there are a couple of other reasons we arrived at the name. The first is that Fe29 puts artists together in collaborative projects which, if carried out in the spirit of openness and generosity, should result in works that are new and unlike the works produced by any one of the artists on their own – in much the same way as when you put two chemical elements together and get something new i.e mix, in the right proportions, highly flammable hydrogen with oxygen that supports combustion and you get something quite different – water.

Thirdly, the name worked nicely as a tribute to Cecilia’s son Karl who passed in 2006 from cancer. They had together named his first café, Café FE, and Cecilia credits her son for getting her art when he commissioned her to make architectural pieces, and later art for the walls of his new restaurant. This not only helped keep her from feeling completely helpless in his last months, but also gave her a tool to help her work through her loss. While this might seem like a sad story, Cecilia sees it as anything but as it has given her a way forward that brings her much joy. Megan and Cecilia hope Fe29 will bring happiness to the many artists they help through the business.