BA (Hons) Fashion Illustration alumna Fiona Gourlay has collaborated with SHOWstudio on an exhibition called, A Beautiful Darkness – Widow Series. Fiona worked with two other fashion illustration alumnae, Bex Cassie and Valerie Servais to produce illustrations for the exhibition with SHOWstudio direction Nick Knight OBE. The exhibition originally went on private display at Central Saint Martins last month, but has now been made available online.
SHOWstudio launched their ‘Widow Series’ over Halloween, it was inspired by a famous French widow, Madame Clicquot – who took over her husband’s wine business at age 27. Fiona and the other LCF alumni were asked to consider Widoe Clicquot also called Veuve Clicquot, who was known as the “Grand Dame of Champagne”, in their illustrations.
LCF News spoke to Fiona after the exhibition to discuss SHOWstudio, her time at LCF and life after graduating.
What made you want to study illustration?
I genuinely just love to draw, I always have! When I was little I would just sit for hours with scraps of paper and draw whatever was in my mind. I haven’t changed much!
Why did you choose LCF and London?
I think London made me feel like I was in amongst it, and that really motivated me to push myself. I chose LCF because the fashion illustration course would be a great fit for me, also I heard about all of the amazing tutors there and was excited by the prospect of being taught by talented creative people such as Piers Atkinson. I definitely made the right choice, LCF has brought be a lot of great opportunities.
How would you describe your style?
Playful, sometimes silly and usually a bit impulsive.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Movement inspires me and I love playing with line and texture in my drawings. I get inspired by lots of things; if I’m illustrating a specific collection I quite often create a narrative around it, so I suppose I’m inspired by design and the power that it has and also with storytelling.
What were the most important things you learnt while at LCF, did the course prepare you for the industry?
I think probably the most important thing was learning how to manage my time, I think it instilled a really good work ethic in me which definitely helps in this industry, you have to be self motivated and always be on top of what needs doing in order to secure good professional relationships with clients. I also think just having that time to really develop my style and grow in confidence with the support of the tutors was a huge thing, and that really helps going out in to the industry knowing who you are and what you’re bringing.
Can you tell us about the SHOWstudio collaboration for A Beautiful Darkness – Widow Series, what did you illustrate and how did the collaboration come about?
Nick Knight is a big inspiration to me and I was so excited and honoured to work on this project. For A Beautiful Darkness I was asked to create a piece inspired by a look from the Undercover S/S 16 show, I wanted to really incorporate the theme of darkness, I created a watercolour portrait which is much more fluid and delicate than my usual quick sketches. My piece along with the other illustrators (who are all incredible) was displayed on the night in one room and people were handed candles to view them, it was really special and atmospheric.
Your personal project, ‘And The Door Bangs Shut’ addresses depression and loneliness. What made you want to illustrate this, and how can illustration be used as a tool to tackle social and psychological issues?
I was working on a project at LCF with Fine Cell Work, we were to come up with illustrations to put on cushions, I got side tracked during the project and ended up doing lots and lots of research, listening to inmates in Fine Cell work videos tell their stories and struggles and about how creative activities had helped to focus their energy to create something positive, which is something I’ve always been really interested in… And so I started trying to refocus my own energy in to articulating what so many others feel.
What were the most interesting parts of your course, did it allow you to explore all the areas you wanted to?
There were a lot of interesting parts! I really loved the placement year, that was a really valuable experience and one that really impacted me. I also really enjoyed the final major project.
What other projects have you worked on since graduating?
I’ve worked on a lot of fun things since graduating; recently I’ve worked with SHOWstudio, Wonderland and photographer and LCF alum Millicent Hailes, Hunger magazine and also with Banda Property. Currently I’m working on some exciting new projects for the New Year including work with a PINE magazine in New York and The New British!
What’s your plans for the future?
Id love to do more collaborative projects, keep experimenting in my work and continue having fun doing it!
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