Sprinkling of magic
PUBLISHED: 05:48 16 February 2015
Copyright: Archant 2014
Step inside the Norwich studio of artist Fiona Bishop for a sparkling, glittering glimpse into the world of her Porch Fairies.
Fiona, how did you begin your journey towards being an artist?
From an early age I was influenced by talented family members, both theatrical and artistic. As a child I would create stories and collect rose petals in the summer and lay them out for fairies to collect and wear as skirts! My father was very imaginative with stories and fairytales, and at school, Thorpe House, I had a very influential art teacher Val Nethercott who was like a splash of colour entering our art room. At 16, I secured a place for the foundation course to do the fine arts degree at Norwich Art School, but went into the theatre instead.
Please tell us about your style and some of the artwork you produce.
My style is illustration. I use a very fine pen to create the detail, use coloured inks, and always hand-finish everything in glitter and gems to create the sparkles.
Every time you look, you might see new things, and can use your imagination to create stories about the woodland folk (who are very hard working) and the Porch Fairies (who only ever wear petal dresses and sparkly shoes). It is theatrical, magical and always happy. It’s fun to draw the enchanted woods and different places the fairies have antics within. They are all in my head waiting to be drawn.
Where does your inspiration come from for The Porch Fairies range of artwork?
For me it’s about being at a stage in life where I’ve been able to rediscover my love of art and surprise myself as it evolves. The inspiration comes from people around me now and my childhood memories and experiences, all of which is a great privilege.
Do the same characters crop up in your pieces again and again? Are there in-house visual jokes?
Oh yes! There are a number of characters, all with their own personalities and you can find profiles of them on our website, under Meet The Porch Fairies. If you look very carefully you may see all sorts of jokes in my work – in Baking Fairies there are triumphs (of sorts) and the odd disaster (not discussed), and in Ballet Fairies their motto is “Gusto and Enthusiasm” with an exasperated ballet mistress. Take a look and see what you can find, especially in the Get Well greetings card.
How do you work – do you have several pieces that you are working on at once, or will you become immersed in a particular picture story for hours on end?
Generally this depends on two things – firstly how busy we are hand-finishing cards and pictures for people who have bought them, and secondly on the time of year. In the summer I can get up really early and use the wonderful natural light, but in the winter I have to work smarter. But even while painting, I do think of ideas for new pictures and have to keep jotting these down.
What does being an artist mean for you now?
I love creating a magical world and immersing myself in it with all the characters. The best things for me are seeing people, especially children, use their imagination to create their own adventures, and then when I am hand-finishing an illustration I wonder where it will hang, who will look at it and how they will make it come to life in their way.
Where are you stocked and can people order your work online?
We are fortunate to be on sale in some of the top retailers in Norfolk, such as Jarrold’s Norwich store, Bakers and Larners of Holt, the Elveden Estate shops and Wroxham Barns. We are also delighted to be represented in Fortnum and Mason in London, some of the Fenwick Group stores and many lovely independent gift shops. And of course at our own website, theporchfairies.co.uk
We are continually adding new greetings cards, illustrations and different products so there are always new things to see.