Fiona Blake

Fine Art - BA (Hons)

Fiona Blake is a painter working mainly in oils. This year she has produced a series of paintings that allude to rough sleeping inspired by her work with the homeless. She has painted architecture and the forms of empty shop doorways and reflections in windows which has opened up an evocative visual language. She revelled in the rich and subtle qualities of oil paint to render the transitory nature of such spaces of occupancy.

However, reference to homelessness is oblique. This year she has also engaged in a participatory art project with residents of the local night shelter where she volunteers. The intention was to engage with this work long term, continuing beyond the degree. They started working together on a project she initiated, but as she hoped, they began to open up with ideas of their own. This project united her solitary painting practice with her social activism. She is also secretary to Clare Hall’s Art committee which hosts exhibitions six times a year. She helps organise and curate these shows in this modernist Cambridge college and in the future wants to work with local artists and curators to promote Cambridge’s rich artistic life.

These works reflect the transience of occupancy for homeless people who stop in the doorway to sit, sleep and beg and the transience of businesses that come and go from these premises depending on their economic fortunes. The long-standing business that occupied this shop still leaves its trace on the building and in the memories of Cambridge residents even as other businesses come and go in this place. Now uncertainty is accentuated by the impact of the lockdown and is echoed in her focus on empty or temporary shops doorways.