Dr Fiona Curran
School of Design
Senior Tutor in Mixed Media Textiles
Fiona Curran is Senior Tutor for Mixed Media Textiles at The Royal College of Art. She is an artist interested in ecology who works with the poetics, politics and materialities of landscape space via writing, the making of objects for exhibition and site-related installations.
Fiona Curran received her PhD from the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London in 2016. Thesis title: Towards a fractured topography of the present: art, ecology and the political economy of speed. Fiona previously studied for a BA and MA at Manchester School of Art and holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Manchester.Show more
Prior to taking up her post as Senior Tutor in Mixed Media Textiles at the RCA Fiona worked as a Senior Lecturer at Manchester School of Art from 2005 to 2014. Fiona has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally and has undertaken a number of site-related public commissions.
Fiona Curran presents landscapes that are broken down into views on the one hand and their physical/material presence on the other. Images and objects – painted, found, handmade and fabricated – sit alongside one another in differing modes of display that explore notions of the original and the copy, the natural and the artificial, the real and the imagined, and the role of technology in mediating between these positions. Using processes of editing, splicing, collage and assemblage, elements of the natural world are interspersed with representations of nature drawn from the fine and decorative arts. Works engage with unseen but sensed geographies through the use of pattern and repetition exploring notions of landscape space and landscape time, once measured through the impact of natural cycles and planetary shifts, now equally measured through digital time and the migratory flows of transnational capital. There is a strong tactile element at play that works to both mimic and counter the saturated spaces of screen technologies with their heightened colour and sleek, luminous surfaces. Objects and materials are stacked, draped, hung and folded often using the vertical and the horizontal planes in order to disrupt viewing positions and to question the different cultural values traditionally ascribed to art forms and materials across painting, sculpture and textiles.Show more
Curran’s public commissions explore the histories of their site referencing historical and contemporary conditions and representations of power, the politics of land use and alternative ecologies.
'Curran’s work in its meditative boredoms and sickly fatigue is as much about forgetting we are already in the slow decline of the world reminding us that catastrophes may manifest suddenly, but the forces that cause them to snap build slowly in the sands of time beneath our feet.'
– Kit Hammonds, 2013
'The woozy, febrile, tropical effect is helped by the fronds and palm trees, both real and replica… tune in to Curran’s atmosphere of artifice and exoticism, the languorous surfeit of surface.'
– Gabriel Coxhead, Modern Painters, 2014
Fiona Curran has a collection with The Rug Company, London.
Fiona is a member of the Board of Trustees at The Florence Trust, an International Artist's Residency Programme based in London.Show more
External Examiner Applied Material Cultures, NCAD Dublin
Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes
Fiona Curran has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally. Recent public commissions include The grass seemed darker than ever, a site-specific project for Kielder Art & Architecture at Kielder Forest in Northumberland (2016); An accident looking for somewhere to happen commissioned by Locws International for Art Across the City, Swansea (2012) and This time next year things are going to be different for the Tatton Park Biennial, Tatton Park, Cheshire (2010).
Recent exhibitions include No Matter, New Matter, Ed.Varie, New York (2015); Promise of Palm Trees, Breese Little, London (2014); Mostyn Open, Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales; Situation, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia (2014); Detail, H Projects, Bangkok (2014); Riff, Baltic 39, Newcastle; Beach Fatigue, Carslaw St* Lukes, London (2013-14); Untitled, Miami, USA (2012); Translate/Transcribe, Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia (2012); Guasch-Coranty International Painting Prize, Centro de Tecla Sala, Barcelona, Spain (2010); Assembly, Chapter Gallery, Cardiff (2010).
Conference Presentations and Publications
'Cloud Ecologies: Weather, Pollution, Time and Data', Mutating Ecologies in Contemporary Art, MACBA, Barcelona (publication forthcoming 2017)
'Satellite's Gone: Materialities of the Space Race, Atmospheric Politics, Drifting Clouds', Speeding & Braking, Goldsmith's University
‘Thinking Thought Otherwise: Cannibal Metaphysics and the Resistance to Ideal Form’, Transvaluation: Making The World Matter, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden. Full paper available here.
‘Anxious Objects’, Disegno, Vol.7.
‘Thinking the Interior: Atmospheric envelopes and entangled objects’, SITUATION, RMIT, Melbourne.
‘Cannibalising Nature: Resituating Hélio Oiticica’s Tropicália as ethical-environmental practice’, Reading and Exhibiting Nature, University of Westminster.
'Ecologies of the Object' at Making Futures III, Plymouth School of Art. Paper available in Making Futures Journal, Vol III: Interfaces Between Craft Knowledge and Design http://makingfutures.plymouthart.ac.uk/journalvol3/index.html
‘Paradise Lost? Contemporary Design and the Corruption of Nature’, Collapse, Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies, University College London.
‘Where Planes Intersect: The Function of The Oblique in J.G.Ballard and Paul Virilio’, Spatial Perspectives: Literature and Architecture 1850 to the Present, The University of Oxford.
'Geographies of Colour: Armchair Travellers and The Tropical Imaginary', Research Projects 2012, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.
'Paradise Lost? Contemporary Design and The Corruption of Nature', Bringing It all Back, Design and Revivals, Parsons New School of Art and Design, New York.
Awards and Grants
2016 Shortlisted for the West Dean Tapestry Commission
2015–2016 Commission for Kielder Art and Architecture at Kielder Forest, Northumberland.
2012 The Jean Spencer and Malcolm Hughes Bursary, the Slade School of Fine Art.
2011 RIBA MSA Small Project Award for the site-specific commission, This time next year things are going to be different, produced for the Tatton Park Biennial in 2010.
Current and recent research
Fiona's research sits within the emerging field of the environmental humanities and post-anthropocentric ecological thought.
Her writing and practice focus on the critical significance of landscape, explored as sight (representation/mediation) and site (material) in contributing to an expanded material and aesthetic sense of ecological relations. The research is further guided by interrogating the environmental impacts of new technologies since the 1960s, highlighting their contribution to a political economy of speed via the restructuring of capital along transnational, cognitive and seemingly ‘immaterial’ lines. Whilst this research is ecological in intent, it critiques the concept of “environmental art” and the application of this term to a niche area of practice. Landscape is presented as relationally constituted and assembled through specific cultural, economic, technological and material practices.