Fiona Pole

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Fiona Pole was born in 1974. She graduated from Rhodes University, Grahamstown with a Bachelor of Fine Art (honours), and worked and lived in France for many years before returning to Johannesburg where she has now opened her own studio "The Atelier". Fiona Pole adds: "The starting point - London - the base from where I travelled and worked for two and a half years. After several visits to France, I decided to move to Paris. Motivated to learn French and study further I enrolled at a language school and at an atelier for etching. A few months later the daunting task of entrance interviews for l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure Estienne - a school specialising in graphic arts and arts related to books, was undertaken. Accepted into the section of etching and engraving, the next two years were spent perfecting my French and working in the print workshops".

Fiona Pole became the first South African artist to complete a printmaking diploma (with honours) at this prestigious institution. In Fiona Pole's final year, letters were sent to a group of famous South Africans requesting them to relate one of their favourite childhood memories. The eight replies received were used as the basis for a printmaking project, which was, awarded the highest honour by a jury of twenty professionals. The project has toured around France, been on exhibition in the United Kingdom and was shown in September 2003 as part of the Arts Alive Festival at Art on Paper, a gallery in Johannesburg.

Since completing her diploma at l'Ecole Estienne Pole has been working as an artist and part-time translator.

Fiona Pole has a quiet and unassuming way of getting to key issues in an original fashion. She recently worked with a group of children, all born in 1994 (the year of South Africa's liberation and first democratic elections) and asked them to describe their sense of what South Africa is about. Working with these "freedom" children and then having asked well known South Africans who have helped shape the political and social reality of these children, (to describe a event from their own childhood) is wonderful way of working with the cyclical narratives of personal histories as a way of describing the national history.

Pole is fascinated by the urban structures that people live within. Living in Paris and having been raised in Johannesburg has led to her awareness of the art deco buildings in both cities. The people of Johannesburg largely ignore these buildings and their fine lines as they get on with their lives on the streets and interiors of these structures.

In the series of four lithographs that Pole worked on at The Artists' Press she examines some of these buildings. Her choice of colour is warm and removed from the actual colours of the buildings and instead reflect the duty heat of what was a mining town. They create a sense that is both intrinsically African but at the same time harks back to early twentieth century prints done in Europe.

In the Cape Town lithographs Fiona Pole continues with her series of cities. The first were a series of linocuts of Paris, followed by the Johannesburg lithographs. The images are a way for her to make sense of the cities, to familiarize herself with the cities and to help understand how the cities work. In both Johannesburg and Cape Town the process started off with Fiona Pole sketching the buildings on site. In Johannesburg she began with Ansteys and in Cape Town with the Old Mutual building. These buildings are the landmarks around which the other buildings are found. They are personal landmarks and the others were selected based on their beauty.

The colours she chose for Paris are red and black. For Johannesburg the colours are hot earth colours with a minimal use of black. She was interested in capturing the blinding sense of light that dominates this high altitude city. In the Cape "I wanted to attempt to portray the blue wet sky that seems to seep into everything. The grey of the mountain that shadows the city. And the amazing colours of the Bo-Kaap". In contrast to the Johannesburg images the colours of the Cape Town series are more reticent, cooler and combine the elements of air and water. This was enhanced by Mark Attwood suggesting new ways of working and "by experimenting with painterly techniques we came up with some effects which work very well with the cape sky" she says.

Fiona Pole works a lot with maps and places in her work. She adds, " The city images are a way of making a personal map of things. There is an element of nostalgia in doing this". Figures in her work become random "background" elements. Often in cityscape snapshots people get "captured" in the image. These people are the people who never get noticed, the nobodies of city living. "I like to concentrate on these random figures, on the woman leaving the house and the man walking by". In this way the artist reaches out and gives these people the same importance as what are often historically important buildings.

In The Grey building and in Old Mutual Fiona Pole gives an African dimension to the images suggesting African fabric patterns in the windows and in the combinations of colours.

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New Editions

Cape Town, lithographs

fiona pole, south african art, cape town prints, cape art

Title: Old Mutual
Medium: Five colour lithograph
Paper size: 66 x 50.5cm
Image size: 51.5 x 36cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 600 (excl.VAT)

fiona pole,  south african artists, cape buildings, cape prints, cape town art

Title: Grey Building
Medium: Six colour lithograph
Paper size: 66 x 50.5cm
Image size: 51.5 x 36cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 600 (excl.VAT)

fiona pole, south african art, cape town lithographs, cape town building prints

Title: The Castle
Medum: Four colour lithograph
Paper size: 50.5cm x 66cm
Image size: 36 x 51.5cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 600 (excl.VAT)

fiona pole, south african lithographs, cape town building prints, cape town cityscapes, bo-kaap buildings, bo-kaap art

Title: Bo-Kaap
Medium: Six colour lithograph
Paper size: 50.5cm x 66cm
Image size: 36 x 51.5cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 600 (excl.VAT)

fiona pole, cape town art prints, cape town buildings, cape lithographs

Title: Conversation
Medium: Six colour lithograph
Paper size: 50.5cm x 66cm
Image size: 36 x 51.5cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 600 (excl.VAT)

Johannesburg, lithographs

fiona pole south african printmaker

Title: Harrison Street
Medium: Six colour lithograph
Paper size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
Image size: 52 x 36.3cm
Edition size: 25
Price: SOLD OUT

fiona pole south african artist

Title: Anstey's
Medium: Six colour lithograph
Paper size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
Image size: 52 x 36.3cm
Edition size: 25
Price: SOLD OUT

fiona pole lithographs

Title: Loveday Street
Medium: Six colour lithograph
Paper size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
image size: 52 x 36.3cm
Edition size: 25
Price: SOLD OUT

fiona pole fine art

Title: Newtown
Medium: Six colour lithograph
Paper size: 66.5 x 50.5cm
Image size: 52 x 36.3cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 600 (excl.VAT)

Fiona Pole's prints as an example of a limited edition