Orkney Islands Council
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Fiona forges ahead with art and craft makers award

Fiona forges ahead with art and craft makers award
04 September 2017

Local artists and craft makers can hear from a Stromness-based metalworker, Fiona Sanderson, about how a scheme run by the Council has helped boost her skills, at a workshop this week.

The Visual Artists and Craft Makers Awards offers grants of £500 and £1500 to support individual artists and craft makers develop professionally and creatively.

So far the scheme has helped 13 local artists and makers to get ideas and projects off the ground.

Fiona was awarded funding from the scheme in 2016. She’s used the fund to help pay for training in specialist areas of metalworking, including making her own tools. Below is a picture of some new experimental work she has undertaken since the course, showing some of the joining skills she has now mastered.

 Detail of new work by Fiona Sanderson showing new joining skills supported by the VACMA scheme.

“I work almost entirely in recycled metal, using a blowtorch to soften the metal ready to work with and then mostly nylon mallets for shaping, and metal hammers and punches to make firmer marks, and piercings – and an old tree stump which has a hollow is useful as a ‘former’ for bowls and curves, and a cut piece of railtrack makes a very handy anvil.

“But I’ve been wanting for some time to experiment with different ways to texture metal, beyond a hammer and a hollow.

“I felt that I had got as far as I could do on my own, with the sundials that I made, inventing my own rivet technique as I went, and using bought punches for texture work.

“The VACMA scheme funded the time I put in to this learning.

“It also part-funded my place on a 'large metal sculpture' course to learn how to make my own texturing tools. I also learned lots of different joining techniques, and how to work with recycled steel, which was an unexpected bonus.

“Now I can make my own tools whenever I need them, which will really extend the work I do. I can also share that knowledge with others who are keen to work in metal.

“Also, it was great to work alongside other sculptors and learn from them too. Sometimes watching how someone else does things can save months of experimenting, and I've returned with the inspiration to try some very different ways of working.

“I gained a lot more than I would have expected from the opportunity that the VACMA award offered.”

Fiona will be speaking about her work and how the scheme has helped her at a workshop on Wednesday 6 September from 18:00pm to 19:00pm at the St Magnus Centre. Book a place using the details below.

The VACMA fund is run by Orkney Islands Council on behalf of Creative Scotland, with the support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Awards can be used to support research, skills training, studio work, exhibitions and mentoring.

Applications to the Award close on Wednesday 4 October at 17:00pm.

To find out more, visit the Arts Development section of the Council website, or contact Antony Mottershead at the Council on 01856873737 ext 2406, drop him an email, or write to him care of Education, Leisure and Housing Services, Orkney Islands Council, School Place KW172SS.

Read about how the award has helped another artist, Sheena Graham George, realise her ideas.

Find out more about Fiona’s work by visiting her website www.fionasanderson.com