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Ealing creatives: making multi-media art

The borough has always been at the forefront of the country’s arts and culture scene and is home to Ealing Studios, one of the world’s oldest film studios, which has produced some of the most iconic British films of the last century.

The Marshall company, started from a small shop in Hanwell, has shaped British and world rock music with its amps and musical equipment. Today, the borough is home to the thriving London Mela and British Bhangra scenes.

With our ongoing series ‘Ealing creatives’, Ealing Council wants to introduce you to established and emerging talent in the borough, and hopefully inspire young people to think about a career in the creative industries.

Our previous episodes featured singer, songwriter and actor Tazz and actor Jaz Singh Deol.

For the third episode of the series meet Fiona Hawthorne, artist and facilitator.

Fiona is a visual artist who started the award-winning young people’s project ‘Fox Carnival’, then fell in love with pan drums and helped to create Urban Fox Orchestra Steelband, also known as UFO, based in Ealing. Fiona produced ‘One Thousand Pans’ for the closing weekend of the London Olympic Games. Her digital portrait of Barack Obama hangs in the US Library of Congress.

How it started

Fiona says: “I’m a visual artist mostly, but all the way through doing my own work I’ve worked with kids in schools. I’ve worked for the last 26 years in Carnival, first of all taking children’s art on to the road and then that kind of morphed into a steel band. It’s a strange and unusual combination, but they go really well together.”

The magic of collaboration

“I think that working in the community, and especially working with children, has really informed my own work. They’re so courageous and their sense of colour and their bravery and the way they see things is humbling.

“I often find the ideas that come out of the people I work with will exceed the ideas I might have started with, and the work will always be better than you could have dreamed off.”

What is best about working in the arts?

“I feel it’s great to take any opportunity. UFO plays twice a week in Ealing and we play at the Notting Hill Carnival every year. Doing steel pan, I know how transformative it can be. It gives you the feeling you can do anything, and I think that’s a really, great gift to share with people.”

Any advice for anyone thinking of a career in the arts?

“It can be frightening to think that there is one route or few limited routes (into the arts). When I started, I just wanted to do my own work by any means necessary.”

Councillor Polly Knewstub, cabinet member for thriving communities, said: “Fiona is one of the most wonderful creatives working in Ealing. Not only is she an amazing artist in her own right, but she is helping and inspiring generations of young people to express themselves creatively.

“We’re proud to have launched a cultural manifesto and action plan for the borough which aims to boost local arts, culture and creative industries and support the next generation of Ealing creatives.”

Join  Ealing arts and culture network to keep up with the latest creative sector news, events and networking.

For more information about Fiona and her work, please visit her website.

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