Fiona Freemark’s art is based on day-to-day experiences of life in Toronto, Ottawa Valley, and, most recently, the Doris McCarthy Residency located off the Scarborough Bluffs. Each work of art layers two subject matters that interact, either in opposition or tandem, to create intricate and subtle narratives based on the Canadian landscape. Freemark’s work creates a visual representation of time, sometimes spanning a single hour, day, or week.
There’s no word for the unique medium Freemark works in—it’s a blend of photography, collage, printmaking, and drawing. The process of creation begins with taking a photograph. Freemark is drawn to images with a blanket of patterns (sunlight hitting the leaves of an apple tree in the morning) or have a central focus (a wilting bouquet left for her by the Doris McCarthy housekeeper). Looking over the photographs she’s taken, Freemark intuitively makes connections between the image and her memory of the day to gain inspiration for the second image which she carves into, or out of, the photograph. Instead of a pen, Freemark uses a blade to draw with, cutting line-drawings into the photographs. The end product becomes an object itself, a still life of a still life.
During her month-long residency at Doris McCarthy’s cottage, built in the 1950’s, Freemark worked to portray the site’s complex qualities by considering routines, natural light, found objects, and the overlap between interior and exterior spaces—visualized by repeating tropes of windows and reflections. The interior/exterior divide in Freemark’s work also takes the form of landscapes and still-lives, subject matter that Freemark toggles between and often blurs together.
A photograph of a bouquet of flowers sitting on a table (Still Life #2) is abstracted by a cut out of another bouquet that Freemark held up to the light to create a stencil of the shadow. A cut-out of an apple necessitates the viewer lean into the work to determine the original source material—the payoff, well worth the effort. The distortion of a familiar image into the unfamiliar surprises and delights the viewer who is willing to look long enough to unravel the image.
Written by Tatum Dooley