Tell us about your career/practice?

I am a young Torres Strait Islander woman and an emerging artist. I am driven by my passion to tell and preserve the stories of my people, place, fauna, country and identity. I used to work at a school in the Early Years program and art was my after hours work. When I had time or needed to relax and create, that’s when I turned to my art. At the time, I only created my prints to enter awards, gradually I realised that I needed to invest more time into developing my art making and that’s when I thought of leaving the school and building my art with a new approach and a different perspective. In September 2017, I applied for the Studio Print Assistant position at Moa Arts and was the successful applicant. Working at the art centre I am creating more work, learning new skills like planning and organising, and I’ve worked with other artists and received wider professional industry exposure. I am certainly tackling some of my goals and ticking things off. Now I’m reflecting on what I will develop for 2019.

Fiona Elisala. Photography by Jan Cattoni

Fiona Elisala. Photography by Jan Cattoni

Is this your first time entering the Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award? If so, what inspired you to enter?

Yes, this is the first time I have entered. My inspiration and determination were driven from our senior artists David Bosun and Solomon Booth. Over the past 12 months I have obtained, observed and learnt from these two. Their words of encouragement inspire me, they teach me about developing my art making and having a go, to take each challenge and opportunity when it comes. Our new manager Lisa also came on board at this time and it gave me fresh inspiration and motivation.

Can you tell us about the work you entered to this year’s award?

Uman captures the repetition of generations. The three ladies sitting and weaving depict the past, present and future. Intrinsically interwoven in this art piece is the teaching and knowledge that is passed on from generation to generation. Uman means weaving – teaching and knitting together the knowledge that is passed on. The basket at the bottom of the print symbolises a vessel where all the knowledge that is taught by gathering together is held in order to preserve and retain the past for the future.

How was the work made?

My work is a linocut on 300gsm archers paper, printed on an etching press. I carve out the lino and then work with the Studio Manager, Solomon Booth, to print the work at the art centre. We work together to get the colours that I want and we use printing techniques that have been specially developed here at Moa Arts. These techniques use different methods to put the ink to the block, including our unique Kaidharal technique. In this way you blend and apply the colours to certain areas, and allow it to create its own special effect.

What’s next for you?

I’d like to further develop my skills and continue to work on larger scale pieces, refining my concepts. I am driven by the passion of creating an intimacy of connection through the telling of my art. I have set goals and plans for myself for the remaining months of 2018, preparing for 2019 Art awards, exhibitions and market works. I’m excited and looking forward to 2019, I can already see the works ahead that I will create.

You can find out more about Fiona and her work here.