Fiona Carey is an artist, designer, photographer and activist who studied at Central Saint Martins, London and the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. She recently exhibited her work 'The Nothing of Everything' in a solo show in Signal Arts Centre, Bray and has exhibited in group exhibitions including The Ashford Gallery, RHA, Dublin, DesignFesta, Tokyo and Aoimori Print Triennale, Hokkaido.
Her series of 'Everyday Breastfeeding' illustrations will be part of the Health Research Board's exhibition 'CREATION: The Art of Pregnancy and Birth' in the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin from Tuesday 3rd - Sunday 15th July.
Fiona works from her home studio in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, where she lives with her husband, son and baby daughter.
Fiona graduated from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin with a first class honours in BA Fine Art Printmaking and from the Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London with an MA Performance Design and Practice. She has worked in multiple fields in creative industries, including set and costume design, production design, jewellery and fashion design, graphic design and photography.
This series of illustrations depicts everyday experiences of breastfeeding – the lovely, chaotic, precious, mundane, lived reality of it. While breastfeeding is the common theme, it is not the central focus of these images; it is simply one component of life as a parent of babies and toddlers. Too often, breastfeeding is denigrated by a hostile society and a media that seeks to stir controversy through fabricated “mommy wars”. At the same time, a lot of breastfeeding photography presents it as a divine act performed by women sitting in wheat fields at dusk, wearing flower crowns and billowing chiffon robes, or with full emphasis on the baby and breast – as if it is a dislocated piece of anatomy, separate from the woman and the rest of her life.
The result is that breastfeeding – in a society where so many people have only ever seen babies being bottle-fed – can seem inaccessible and incompatible with modern life. Rarely do we see images of breastfeeding fitting in with work, family, exhaustion, eating, resting, socialising, travelling, sleeping, life.
Reminiscent of nineteenth-century French realism paintings – which depict ordinary women breastfeeding as part of their ordinary lives – these illustrations portray modern women’s relationships to breastfeeding, as part of their modern lives, capturing the ordinary and extraordinary, the mundane and magical. At a time when most western countries are trying to improve their breastfeeding rates, it is crucial that a diverse range of people can see themselves and their lives reflected in images of breastfeeding. It should also be promoted as a feasible, convenient and desirable way to feed after the newborn period, when people's lives begin to return to "normal" – be that returning to work, returning to the responsibilities of caring for other family members, or otherwise existing outside of the domestic sphere.
The Nothing of Everything
For thousands of years, Kabbalah (a Jewish mystic religion) has been based on a fundamental contradiction: that God or ‘Ein Sof' exists in all things, and yet is ultimately unknowable. As scientific research advances into the future, at the level of quantum theory, we also find inherent contradictions: that sub-atomic particles can behave in seemingly impossible ways, and that there are fundamental limits to our ability to know something for certain. Kabbalah teaches that God is all-permeating, and is the nothingness within everything. Meanwhile, science shows that matter - that which to us seems so concrete, so real - is mostly empty space, subject to the paradoxical laws of quantum mechanics.
This body of work explores not the opposing – seemingly incompatible – views of science, religion, theology, and spirituality, but the areas where they intersect and overlap. This exhibition consists of two bodies of work; drawings and watercolours, and encaustic paintings.
The drawings and watercolours series explores the connection of spirituality, science, and art. It draws on recurring themes in spiritually-influenced art, spanning different times and belief systems. From Tantric Hindu Art to Celtic Insular Art, from Islamic Golden Age architecture to 20th Century geometric abstract art, from Ancient Egypt to the European Renaissance religious paintings, geometry is used time and again by artists to explore and portray that which cannot be seen and can only be felt.
The series of encaustic paintings are multi-faceted, enchanting, and magnetic; representative of all things and no one thing. They capture the oneness of all existence, of creation, conception, birth, death, fleeting moments of absolute clarity and pure consciousness, epiphanies, brainwaves, awakenings. They simultaneously depict atoms, amoebae and galaxies. They are at once cellular and universal, capturing both divinity and flawed humanity.
The human quest for the truth about the meaning of life is as old as our species.
But can there be one absolute truth? Would we recognise it if we found it? Can there be anything truer than our own experience – be it physical or metaphysical – of the universe?
At a time when we are seeing a renewed curiosity and hunger for something more than rational and logical thought, this work does not attempt to arrive at answers to these questions, rather to highlight the importance and enjoyment of the very act of pondering them in the first place.