Our ninety eighth interview in this series of interviews is with talented mobile photographer Fiona Christian from East Sussex, England, UK. We decided to launch this new intimate style of interview into TheAppWhisperer – the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website as we feel it is important that our community feel closer to each other. It is this support network that helps us to nurture one another, gain confidence and continue to grow.
Now, this intro is a little easier for me to write because I’m good friends with Fiona and when I think of her, there’s one memory that enduringly warms me. We generally meet at various art exhibitions and share our time and thoughts, usually including a good lunch somewhere. The memory that stays with me though, is one where we were walking down the Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7, we were just chatting but how we laughed, we laughed so much and so hard. That’s what good friends do, oh and another thing, she gives the very best hugs, so it’s a real pleasure to include this interview with Fiona and her beautiful art, it helped me to learn a little more about her too. Enjoy!
To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Wahlberg, Andrea Bigiarini, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios Linda Toki, Deb Field, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter, Frederic Deschênes, Mark Schnidman, Fatma Korkut, Fleur Schim, Rob Pearson-Wright, Dieter Gaebel, James Ellis, Marco P Prado, Jeronimo Sanz, Manuela Matos Monteiro, Bleu Chemiko, Manuela Basaldella, Stefania Piccioni, Luis Rodríguez, Marilisa Andriani(@mitrydate) Mayte Balcells (@artofmayte), Nicole Christophe, Jennifer Graham, Cathrine HalsørPaul Toussaint, Carol Wiebe, Julie Denning, Kim Clayton (@berleyart), Karen Messick, Serap Utaş, MaryJane Rosenfeld, Paul Suciu, Susan Latty (@pause.and.breathe),John Nieto, Phyllis Shenny, Joy Barry, Max Lies Derdonk, Rita Tipunina, Violet Martins, Nizzar Ben Chekroune, Lynette Sheppard, Paul-Andre Hamel, Rejane Rubino, Susan Detroy, Rosalie Heller, Wayman Stairs, Cintia Malhotra, Anita Elle, Juta Jazz, Cheryl Tarrant, Hanni König Kaoru Shintaku David Gilbert Jana Curcio, Mary Lorincz Amado Ergana, Francesco Sambati, Philip Parsons, Kathryn Garkut Massimo Bortolini Camilla Crescini Francesca Malagoli Sidonie Petit Dirk Fleischmann myself, go here.
All images ©Fiona Christian
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I didn’t have any real ambition in my school days. My dream job at that time would have been either a marine biologist, a chef or a plate painter at one of the local potteries.
I also had an overwhelming desire to visit Australia!
Apart from winning a colouring competition when I was 10, I can’t recall any actual recognition. The first occasion that springs to mind would be having 3 of my images selected for the Los Angeles Mobile Arts Festival exhibition in 2012 and having one of them actually sell!
My first job was in a commercial graphic design & photographic studio. I was there for 4 years and worked my way up from general assistant to studio manager in that time, learning graphic art & design, studio photography and B&W developing & hand printing.
Private or State School?
I attended a catholic, state comprehensive school. I can’t adequately convey how much I hated school and would regularly feign illness to avoid it.
Despite that, I somehow managed to pass all my exams!
Work. There was no way I was signing up for more school!
I started at the art studio 6 weeks after leaving school and 3 weeks after my 16th birthday.
Who was or still is your mentor?
I’m not sure I’ve ever had a mentor but there was an English teacher – Mr Cowley that always inspired me. On the rare occasions that I attended school, his lessons were the highlight. He was so passionate. He instilled a love of literature and writing that has always stayed with me.
My Mum was another strong influence. My brother and sisters range from between 14-21 yrs older than me and had therefor left home long before I grew up so I spent a lot of time alone with Mum. She was a keen cook and gardener and taught me all she knew. I learnt all the Latin plant names from an early age and many cookery skills such as bottling and jam making that I still enjoy today.
How physically fit are you?
I have osteoarthritis in most of my joints but my hands have been getting steadily worse for a while. Some fingers don’t bend much at all now. My knees are also becoming difficult to bend and can be quite painful.
I’ve never been a fan of gyms and am positively allergic to activities such as jogging and cycling. That said, my job as an interior decorator does keep me relatively fit and I’ve recently discovered yoga which helps enormously. I wish I’d done it years ago! I’m convinced they should teach it in all schools as the benefits are incredible.
Ambition or Talent?
I think that depends on your definition of success.
If success is measured in financial terms, then ambition certainly helps as all the talent in the world won’t lead to wealth if there’s no desire or ability to market it.
In many cases, ambition and business acumen can produce success even when talent is in short supply.
Conversely, it’s possible to be supremely talented but have that talent go unrecognised if there is no ambition or marketing skills to make anyone aware of those talents.
However, I don’t think that success should be gauged that way. If you can find time to do what makes you happy and even make a few other people happy along the way, I’d consider that a pretty successful lifestyle.
I suspect that the answer is ‘a little of both’
How politically committed are you?
Not at all. I never read newspapers and rarely watch the news. I have my likes and dislikes of certain politicians and parties but generally i don’t follow any of it closely.
The world of politics is shifting into very dangerous waters these days with the rise in right wing agendas and that orange clown across the pond. I’m not sure I could keep my blood pressure from going off the scale if I were to immerse myself in such matters on a regular basis.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
I really can’t think of anything!
Ok, now I think about it.. a piece of Chihuly glass would be wonderful.
What is your biggest extravagance?
I could be described as many things but extravagant isn’t one of them. I can sniff out a bargain with shark-like efficiency.
Given the opportunity, it would probably be art. I’d make every room into a gallery if I could. And books!
What places are you the happiest?
That would have to be my home and garden. I’m lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country with views to the coast on a clear day. However I love travelling and seeing new places so I’m happy pretty much anywhere I happen to be, if I can take a few pics while I’m there.
What ambitions do you still have?
I’ve always wanted to write a book. One of these days I’ll get around to it. There’s also a few places left to visit.
What drives you on?
An inability to sit still and do nothing. My mind is constantly whirring away, thinking up things to do next.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Learning to scuba dive and qualifying as an instructor has to be up there, as I had (and still have) an intense dislike of water. I even stand with my back to the shower! In order to start the training course I first had to teach myself to swim. It was so worth it though! As a result I got to travel the world exploring wrecks and reefs, met some amazing people and spent a joyous afternoon diving with leafy seadragons off the south coast of Australia.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Oh, where to begin!?
Whilst there are many traits that I find unappealing, loud, brash people are probably the most irritating as I can be quite introverted much of the time.
Another would be people that find practical jokes and pranks amusing. I just don’t understand how anyone can derive pleasure from another’s contrived misfortune.
If your 20-year old self could see you now, what would she think?
Who are you and what have you done with Fi?!
Which object that you’ve love do you wish you still have?
My Ford Capri. I’m not really interested in cars but I really loved that car. Apart from anything else, I’ve got long legs and short arms. It was made for me!
Do you believe in an afterlife?
A catholic education made a devout atheist of me at the age of 9. In fact, I’ll add religion to my ‘ most irritating’ list!
If I had to think on a spiritual level I would align more with a natural interconnectedness of things.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
There are so many these days but the ecological crisis has to be the most pressing. Politicians and ideologies come and go but if something isn’t done about plastics and environmental damage the result will be catastrophic. We try and recycle all we can and refuse to buy anything containing palm oil but it does feel like it’s a losing battle at times.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
Like most people, I’ve had my fair share of hard times but even they have led to positive outcomes eventually. I’d have to give it at least a 9.
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