The Dark and The Whimsical

Fiona Thomas

Untitled (Interpersonal Interruption)

2.5 feet x 1.5 feet x 1.5 feet, ceramic, 2021

I’m tired. I’m frustrated and I’m tired. Tired of hearing so many voices inside of my head constantly fighting for control over my brain. I’m frustrated with the healthcare system. I’m exhausted from a decade being tossed around the system, fighting an uphill battle the entire time. I’m frustrated that there is still stigma in the professional world around mental illness. That we’re forced to keep diagnoses secret, leaving them off of files, so that we are not turned down for treatment. 

I want to create something that confronts everyone who performs advocacy, or believes mental health is being properly addressed, while everything is still being swept under the rug. Something that shows people who are still struggling that they are seen. 

My work is a manifestation of this deep, visceral exhaustion. I create these works therapeutically. I throw ceramics so large that I physically exhaust myself. I then work  repetitively, sculpting and burnishing the object so that I exhaust myself mentally. 

Goblincore Forest

Various sizes, reduction fired ceramic, 2021

In this series I wanted to explore functional wares and community through the personification of the functional vessels. In this particular instance, I specifically wanted to examine the queer community and the diction that is unique in how aesthetic is expressed. Much of the language that is associated with the queer community is appropriated African American Vernacular English, especially from the perspective of an outsider, however there are also certain terms in which I have heard exclusively when talking to other queer people. These vessels are created in response to the many queer people I have heard refer to themselves as “gremlins” and the adjacent aesthetic “goblincore”. There is a certain interest to me in the idea that queer people are embracing being “othered” and self identifying with forest dwelling creatures. I wanted to make these vessels to explore my own attachment to the word gremlin and how that relates to my own queerness.

This is a series I am continuing to produce and further explore with more types of vessels and how that changes their individual personalities and how the vessels then interact with each other.

Kaleidoscopic Forest

3 meters x 1.5 metres, linocut on fabric, silkscreen on ceramics, 2021

When conceiving the idea for Kaleidoscopic Forest, I wanted to continue to look at themes of mental health but rather than being confronting I wanted to create a whimsical space where you had to look closer to see the underlying darkness. Most mental illnesses are impossible to tell from just looking at someone. A bright and bubbly exterior is not indicative of wellness.

There are the watchful eyes keeping the viewer in a state of unrest once they have looked past the garish colours and playful energy. The labour again in this piece a self soothing practice through repetitive action. The meticulous action of lining up and printing the bark patterned block nearly 300 times. The throwing of many small mushroom caps in the same motion. Enough focus on such tedious tasks to exhaust my always busy mind.

Fiona Thomas

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Fiona Thomas is an artist who works in the intersection of ceramics, textiles, and print. Their work addresses mental health and queerness through abject visceral and botanic formal symbolism. They nod to goblincore aesthetics, positioning themself among contemporary queer community. Additionally, Fiona explores what it is to be a femme in the world of craft and high art spaces, challenging the boundaries of femininity through their dark and sickly sweet grasp of traditionally feminine and / or domesticated art forms. They are a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate from Emily Carr University with focus in ceramics (2021) and are looking forward to continuing their practice in production pottery and ceramic technology. More of their work is able to be viewed on their instagram @theinsomnicat
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