ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Colombo Sri Lanka, Canadian artist Frances Ferdinands is based in Toronto. She holds a B.F.A.from York University, an A.R.C.T. (Piano) from the Royal Conservatory of Music, and an Education Degree from University of Toronto. Ferdinands has exhibited her work for 4 decades, in such art centres as New York, London, Paris, Chicago, Bogota and Honolulu, and across the USA and Canada. Within Canada she has had numerous exhibitions at commercial and Public Galleries, and her paintings are held in Private, Museum and Corporate collections such as Standard Broadcasting, Franco-Nevada Mining, Dresdner Bank of Canada, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, the Judith & Norman Alix Gallery, and the Royal Ontario Museum. She is the recipient of many Arts Council grants and her paintings are featured in two Artbooks: “Rethinking Acrylic” and “Acrylic Innovation” (Northlight Books, 2008, 2010) as well as in periodicals, “The Purposeful Mayonnaise” Vol 1 Issue 5 (2022) and “The Woven Tale Press” (Vol.8, Issue 3, 2020)
In 2015 and 2017 Ferdinands (under an ARTS Grant) returned to her homeland to be mentored in the traditional arts and crafts of temple painting, bobbin lace making, and mask making that are culturally at risk. This experience served to enrich Ferdinands’ understanding of her Sri Lankan heritage and her sense of place within it. The experience also spawned new work including the “Atomizer” collection - a series of 10 works which the Royal Ontario Museum purchased. She was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mint to design the 2017 “Diwali" and the 2019 “Multi-Cultural” commemorative solid gold coin. In 2019 she traveled to Spain and Morocco to visit important Islamic sites and was awarded a Chalmers Fellowship to travel to London England to study Islamic Patterning. The knowledge gained further expands her focus on exploring visual cultural differences, belief systems and cross-cultural fertilization. In 2020 she had a Solo Exhibition at the Noble Sage Gallery in London England.
My series of paintings acknowledge the Pattern & Decoration movement and its ideals, while expressing my unique vision rooted in my South Asian heritage as a Sri Lankan immigrant and Person of Colour. “Decoration” provides the underpinnings of the visual culture of many non-Western traditions and is still embraced as vital and relevant. Recognizing that decoration has been vilified historically by Western art critics as being non-intellectual, feminine, and inconsequential, my work challenges this notion rooted in Euro-centrism and celebrates the rich history of these cultures. These works can be described as “exotic” illusory landscapes hovering between representation and abstraction. Largely painted intuitively, and drawing on music, art, objects, murals, tiles, textiles, wallpaper as reference, they are a mix of objects, nature imagery, patterning and ornamentation. Within the paintings I create narrative and tangential connections reflecting intersections and migrations of various cultural visual languages from South Asian to Middle Eastern to Western. Within this eclectic mix they become vehicles to express my concerns for the loss of nature, the echoes of colonialism, migration and transformation. Through re-interpreting and re-contextualizing these forms within my own unique style and content, this synthesis is a way of speaking to the “in-between space” of varied social and cultural realities that I inhabit. Finally I strive to make each work political, poetic and beautiful.