5 things that fascinate Cecilia Fiona

February 17, 2024
5 things that fascinate Cecilia Fiona

On the occasion of Cecilia Fiona’s solo show at VITRINE Fitzrovia, ‘Weaving time, spinning spine’, on view until 9 March 2024, the artist introduces us to some of the inspirations behind her practice. The influence of these can be found in her Copenhagen studio and woven throughout her paintings, sculptures and performances.

1: The connected universes of Quantum Physics and Microbiology

I am fascinated by research in Quantum Physics which tries to understand the properties of matter and the laws which govern all things. There are still so many unanswered questions in this field, so many mysteries. The more you look into it, the more magical the world becomes. The same is true with microbiology: for instance our microbiome and the way our bodies are a galaxy to all the microscopic creatures living inside us - microorganisms that we cannot live without. Some of these might originate from the very beginning of life, meaning we are carrying around some of the earliest instances of life inside our bodies.

This way of looking at the body - as something always inhabited by others and always living in coexistence - is something I find incredibly interesting because we are so used to looking at ourselves as individuals, closed containers separated from nature and other species.

2: Ursula le Guin

Ursula Le Guin’s writing has a big focus on playing with narratives, and exploring how the stories we tell shape our reality. These formative stories need to centre on entanglement, coexistence and the connections between beings - narratives which are webs and interwoven tales rather than linear stories with fixed endings. In Le Guin’s theory of the carrier bag as the earliest receptacle of culture, fiction becomes a container, vessel, or shell that provides psychic nutrition through notions of shared existences and intertwined worlds. In many of my works we see a shell or a body functioning as a portal for new life and as a place where new creatures are born. In my performances, I explore the interplay of my imaginary and our physical realities. Through the performers’ bodies and their movements I am releasing the imaginary worlds depicted in the paintings to become flesh and blood, embodying these figures in our realm. In religious places of worship, the worlds painted on the walls of a church or temple become reality through the rituals performed around them. Similarly, through my ritualistic performances, the performer enacts the dreamworld that becomes physically manifested through the movement of their body.

Leonora Carrington painting from the exhibition catalogue; ‘Leonora Carrington’, by Arken Museum, 2022.

3: Alchemy

Alchemy is an ancient branch of natural philosophy that focused on purifying and perfecting certain materials - transmutating base metals into noble metals as well as creating an elixir of everlasting life.

Alchemy is a way of looking at the world as intertwined and connected. The search for gold or the philosopher’s stone and eternal life was both a chemical and physical quest but is also interpreted as a metaphor for our psychological development as individuals towards greater enlightenment, furthering our understanding of ourselves and each other. The way I see it, the core of Alchemy is transformation: of the body, of the mind, of the minerals and matter, and of nature. It aids in the search for tools needed to transform yourself, unlocking an understanding of the transformations happening in nature around us.

Alchemist drawing of human containing elements from plants, animals and minerals from the book: ‘Alkymi og selvudvikling, Temaer og symboler til personlig vækst’ by Birgit Trust Boysen. Politiken, 1991.

4: Norse mythology

A particular element of Norse mythology that inspires my work is ‘The three Norns’, who were named past, present, and future. They would sit by a big tree at the centre of the cosmos and weave every human’s fate - if they cut your string with a blade you would die. This is such a strong image of female power, and the idea of fate as woven threads is also terrifyingly vivid and fragile. In my own personal life I am trying to trust the process and passage of life and the weaving of time.

When painting with rabbit skin glue and pigments without using a sketch you also have to trust the process, because each painting is made with one chance, as you cannot erase or paint over the marks once they are made on the canvas. It requires me to be present in the moment, following my intuition and jumping into the unknown future of work - just like in life itself.

Hildegard von Bingen, painting from the book: ‘Hildegard af Bingen, Det levende lys, Billeder af Hildegards visioner’ by Kirsten Kjærulff & Hans Jørgen Frederiksen. ANIS, 1998.

5: PJ Harvey

I saw a live performance with PJ Harvey in Copenhagen last autumn and have since been listening to a lot of her most recent album ‘I Inside the Old Year Dying’ (2023). The album is so dark and painful, yet beautiful. It is full of spiritual longing and love and of being fully absorbed in nature - losing your body and becoming part of it all.

PJ Harvey is a woman to me that is expressing her inner worlds and visions through her music and lyrics, and she inspires my work to do the same - manifesting my imagination and vision for an interconnected world through my artworks.


Cecilia Fiona’s solo exhibition ‘Weaving time, spinning spine’ continues at VITRINE Fitzrovia until 9 March 2024.

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