Fiona Kennedy Altoft’s painted collage artworks are a magical display of different textiles, patterns, and paintings. Learn more about how Fiona is inspired, what kind of materials she uses to create the one-of-a-kind artworks, and how art is important to our society.
- Can you tell us about your background?
I am an Australian artist and art educator. My family and I have been living in Hong Kong for 9 years. I grew up in a very small town in Queensland, Australia. I taught at my previous school for 17yrs and thought it was time for a change.
I love teaching and my students, they are inspiring and engaging, I wouldn’t want to be doing any other vocation. When my art practice took up so much time, I left for a year but missed the social aspect, being an artist can sometimes be very isolating. Finding a balance between teaching and my art practice is quite difficult sometimes, but I love doing both and lucky that I get to do what I am passionate about. I was fortunate to have parents support me to choose whatever I wanted to do. I did a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts and then a Grad Dip of Teaching.
I won the Queensland Excellence in Teaching award for my state and received some professional development money I used to come to Hong Kong. Coming to Hong Kong has been a huge learning curve for both my husband and I. There have been amazing opportunities for my whole family, and we are grateful that we have been in Hong Kong.
- What do you want to influence as an artist?
I used to paint many anthropomorphic figures using animal and human characteristics in my previous artwork. But when I first arrived in Hong Kong, I thought that was my opportunity to paint something different. So, I went a little bit more into portraiture and painted collage. The purpose of my work is to create different avenues for people to discuss and recognise issues of identity, culture, sexuality and race. I want to convey what the world has to offer within society, and how art brings us all together.
- Where do you find inspiration?
I think everything is an inspiration when you look and find things surrounding you. I collect everything around Hong Kong, for example, the Chinese celebration paper with little faces. I use this material and collage bits and pieces in my artwork. Whilst looking for materials, I also meet interesting people on the street who are happy to chat and share their stories with me.
Fashion represents peoples identities. I try to include patterns, shapes and fabric designs to characterise their personality. I have an eclectic collection of clothes that express my personality and I use these prints from my clothes in my collages.
- Being an artist and an art teacher, can you describe how art is important to society?
Art is important in society. It helps us understand the culture, build confidence, educate, shock and help people express their feelings. When you get into the flow of creating the artwork, it takes you to another place like you don’t realise what’s happening around you. Art is so important in the development of a person. Obviously, there will be times when you feel frustrated trying to do something new, but I always say, if it’s frustrating, then you’re learning something. You can’t expect to master it if you have never done it before. You need to experiment and explore and practise, this can be applied to all aspects of life and is a technique used by my students in all areas.
- How do photography and other art forms work together and influence each other?
Photography is definitely one of the art forms. We do lens-based art units in our curriculum at school. We teach our students how to take good photos, using interesting angles, lighting and composition. As an artist in 2022, you have to be a photographer to promote your work and do all sorts of promotional, marketing and branding to run your own business.
Fiona Kennedy-Altoft BIO:
Fiona Kennedy-Altoft is an artist and Head of Visual Arts at Discovery College, Hong Kong, where she is a dedicated artist and art educator.
Fiona has 20 years of teaching experience in Qld Australia and won the Excellence in Teaching Award presented by the Queensland College of Teachers at Parliament House. Fiona’s latest art series explores the aspects of human behaviour and culture.
She has been the winner of the Going Public-New and Emerging Artists award at the Town Hall Gallery, Melbourne and the Scots PGC Art Award. She has been the recipient of three Gold Coast City Council Regional Art Development Grants. Her works are found in collections in England, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Italy, Canada and most capital cities of Australia.
Please visit https://www.fionakennedyaltoft.com/ for Fiona’s updates and her work.