Drawn to Life: workshops at The Artistry House for The Big Draw Festival

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Above: A drawing workshop participant eyes up her chosen plant specimen. We referenced John Ruskin quotations as thought provoking mottos within the sessions.

I was super pleased when The Artistry House people asked me to host  drawing workshops with them, for The Big Draw in October 2019, in association with The Friends of Winckley Square.

The Big Draw  is the world’s largest drawing and visual literacy festival and this year its theme ‘Drawn to Life’ celebrates and explores the benefits of being actively creative, to make positive change and improve wellbeing. The festival brings people together all over the world, to champion the ever increasing evidence, both anecdotal and academic, that a more creative life really can improve your health.

Our sessions were inspired by nature and we took up John Ruskin’s approach to ‘drawing as a way of seeing’.  Like Ruskin, I believe that drawing is a disciplined and intensely mindful practice. Its a way to learn directly through observation of the world in all its inter-connected complexity, by and for oneself, rather than only learn about it from a distance, through written language or mediated by the education system.

At The Artistry House event, several free drawing sessions took place throughout the afternoon, and artists with a wide range of previous experience, from novices to art professionals, took part.

There was great company, exchange of skills and experiences, working with colour and a variety of drawing media. The beautifully restored interior of The Artistry House, and the many artworks and objects on display,  enforced our sense of art and creativity as a way of being.  We felt a connection to nature and to each other, through drawing, with the mellow autumn sunlight streaming in.

A restorative and inspirational afternoon.  Thank you to everyone who took part.

Proud artists

Wash Big draw 2experienced handsLiulahBig DrawSpecial thanks to Uzma Padia for her assistance and drawing skills.

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Making our mark in the park.

In addition to the drawing event in The Artistry House, I devised and led a series of group walking activities for The Big Draw and Preston Arts Festivals, in association with The Friends of Winckley Square. These creative walks meandered through Avenham and Miller Parks in the centre of Preston, during October 2019. A sequence of creative exercises took place at points along the way.

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Walkers’ creative ‘kit':  containing A5 notebook/sketchbook, pencil, graphite stick, wooden peg … and in this case, a horse chestnut seed. Other kits contained seeds from different trees.


Slowing down and getting into the right state of mind and body…


Making connections, drawing lines…



A collaborative creative writing exercise took place on the move: on the steps, around the grass circle, by the river,  fountain and in the bandstand.




On each of the walks  we made collaborative artworks, placed midway across the old railway bridge over the river Ribble, as material reminders of the benefits to mind and body of creativity and being fully present in the moment. Feeling more aware and in touch with our surroundings aids calmness and a sense of connection and balance and has been shown to improve mental health and physical wellbeing. Bringing awareness to the present moment can be especially helpful for those feeling weighed down by the past, or fearful of the future.

IMG_0785We made graphite drawings, rubbings and gestural interpretations of atmosphere,  using templates provided, to aid composition. We compiled all the drawings using magnets on the side of the old iron bridge.

We interpreted the perpetually flowing river as a metaphor for time passing and the midway crossing point on the bridge, to signify our NOW moment: neither past or future.




On another occasion, we collected yellow as we moved through the park, sorted the colours into shifting autumnal shades to make a leaf circle.  As an ancient symbol of holism and unity, our circle seemed both enduring and ephemeral.


Thank you to all the walkers for their active participation and creative generosity, and especially to Manda Johnson-Holme and Glennis Hulme for their encouragement, creativity and practical assistance.

Special thanks to Tony Lewis, Park Warden for Avenham and Miller Parks,  for his support and creative input to The Big Draw walks.

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Some touchstones in the development of these creative walks have been

Paul Klee (1879 – 1940) Klee’s highly individual art style was influenced by Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism. He was a natural draftsman who also deeply explored colour theory. He taught at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. https://www.paulklee.net

Hannah Tuuliki is a Finnish/Scottish contemporary artist working in the landscape, with voice, drawing and gesture. https://www.hannatuulikki.org

Richard Long – one of Britain’s best-known land artists. http://www.richardlong.org

Nancy Holt (1938-2014) An american artist who pioneered a unique aesthetic of perception, as a key member of the Earth, Land and Conceptual art movements. http://www.nancyholt.com

Hamish Fulton – English artist who translates his walking into a variety of media. http://www.hamish-fulton.com

Andy Goldsworthy OBE is a British artist known for his site-specific installations involving natural materials and the passage of time. Andy studied art at Preston Polytechnic. Watch a recent film about his work here: https://www.leaningintothewind.com

C.G. Jung (1875 –1961) Swiss born founder of analytical psychology, Jung was also an artist, craftsman and builder as well as a prolific writer. He cited an intense period of art making as hugely influential in the development of his theories of the unconscious. Suggest his last book, an autobiography ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ as a starting point.

‘The Spell of the Sensuous. perception and language in a more-than-human-world.’ David Abram. Vintage Books. David Abram is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues. https://wildethics.org

‘Presence’ is a leading British Haiku journal. www.haikupresence.org

Schumacher College is an internationally renowned learning community in Devon, offering ecology-centred masters programmes and short courses.   https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk

The Big Draw


The world’s largest drawing and visual literacy festival and this year its theme ‘Drawn to Life’ celebrates and explores the benefits of being actively creative to make positive change and improve wellbeing.

The festival brings people together to champion the ever increasing evidence, both anecdotal and academic, that a more creative life really can improve your health.

At The Artistry House 

Winckley Square, Preston.
Saturday 12th October 2019 12 – 4pm

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Live art sessions hosted by artists Fiona Candy and Atlantic Contemporary, will run informally throughout the afternoon. Join the Big Draw with the Friends of Winckley Square on Saturday 12th October for ‘HUMAN-NATURE’ at The Artistry House, 16 Winckley Square, Preston. The Artistry House doors will be open from 12 – 4 and you are welcome to pop in at any time during the afternoon to be inspired by art and explore the house.  You are invited to participate and explore your creative side with live art sessions on portraiture and inspired by nature.”

Please note art places will be limited and provided on a first come first serve basis.

For booking information see Eventbrite: here




for The Big Draw and Preston Arts Festival

Walk in the park frameJoin us for a companionable and creative group walk through Avenham and Miller Parks.

During the walk we will introduce simple ways to tune in to and be inspired by the  landscape: its atmosphere and sensory qualities.  We will draw, write and make, as we trace our movement through the park, working together to experience and experiment, using materials provided.

The walk lasts about 2 hours. Places are limited.

See more on Instagram at  theskyofparadise

Walk 1

The Big Draw event info is here for Saturday October 5th 2019, 14:00 – 16:00  and book at Eventbrite here: here

Walk 2

The Big Draw event info is here for Sunday October 13th, 10:00 – 12:00 and book at Eventbrite here:

A series of other guided walks on a range of topics, organised by the Friends of Winckley Square, will wander and weave through the centre of Preston, during the first three weeks of October 2019 as part of Preston Arts Festival.

More information about all of these walks here

“An active line on a walk, moving freely, without goal. A walk for walk’s sake.” 

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 Image above:  ‘Memory of a walk’ © Fiona Candy, September 2019

 Quotation by Paul Klee, from his Pedagogical Sketchbook, first published in 1925.

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 Examples of pages from Paul Klee’s pedagogical sketchbook, above.

 Recently I’ve been drawing in response to experiences of walking through Preston’s city centre parks. On these walks I made my way intuitively without any plan and sketched out routes and perceptual aspects as I moved along, using pencil line at first. I added to these very rough drawings later and made others from memory. I then combined elements and developed the drawings digitally.

As well as the work of Paul Klee, music and dance notation have been strong influences.

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Above: small section of walk ‘notation’ from my sketchbook


Above; John Cage music score


Above: a ‘Hornpipe’, Baroque dance notation

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Above: ‘Alchemy of Atmosphere’ © Fiona Candy, September 2019.

My drawings are not conceived as ‘maps’ or diagrams in any conventional sense: no relationship  to compass points was considered  for instance, or  the relative scale of pathways or other features encountered in the park. Rather, the drawings are expressions  of embodied  memories, of sensing and moving through ephemeral qualities of landscape.

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Google Earth view of Avenham and Miller Parks

Equal & Opposite – the laws of motion

Newton’s 3rd Law of motion: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.


The video above is a  raw edit of serendipitous moments captured via my iPhone when I attended an Instameet at ‘PEOPLE’,  a temporary,  ground level art installation by artists Low Profile. The PEOPLE artwork is part of celebrations to mark 50 years of Preston’s Bus Station, which was built in 1969 in the Brutalist architectural style.

The Instameet was organised by local curatorial partnership, In Certain Places. An exhibition called ‘Beautiful and Brutal: 50 Years in the life of the Bus Station’ will take place in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, in Preston, Lancashire,  later in the year.

Time Warp

Time Warp 1

Image above: ‘Because’

From my archive: a selection of digital images made following a trip to China, where I have merged antique textile finds with other moments and memories from my journey.  Blurring boundaries between time and place.

Boy in Summer Palace Beijing, wearing stitched applique tee shirt. Embroidered section of a Tujia woman’s garment from Guizhou Province, Qing Dynasty, early 20th Century. Shanghai Museum Costume Collection.

Image below: ‘Cryptic Messaging’

My immortal

Communicative and mysterious English language texts seen on teeshirts – a mass fashion phenomenon. One written in 1812 by Ludwig Von Beethoven in Teplitz; worn, read and photographed on The Bund, Shanghai, more than two hundred years later. Buddhist symbols on Qing dynasty woven textile from Shanghai Museum.

Time Warp 2Image: ‘On weft to Hangzhou’ 

Photograph of motorway, taken from the train to Hangzhou. Qing Dynasty woven textile.

Future Memories

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Continuing my time travel: I made a selection of visual experiments, aiming to trigger comparisons to social attitudes, opportunities and expectations of young people, past, present and future.

Images merge found photographs of late 19th/ early 20th century cotton millworkers in US, with components taken from recent media coverage of 21st century protest.

Thanks to Lewis Hine for his memories of doffers, spinners and scavengers…

make America Great again North Carolina



Love trumps



We the people



Spinner save the world

Exhibition in Beijing for Chinese new year of the pig

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‘An Economic Animal.’

Commemorating an epic struggle between power, wealth and democracy.                                (© Fiona Candy, 2018). 

Included in ‘The Pigs Come In’, a group show at the Shareall Gallery in Beijing, during January 2019, to mark Chinese New Year.

Below are views of and from the ‘Shareall’ Building. The exhibition was installed on its top floor, making it the highest gallery in Beijing.


A small selection of works exhibited by other artists at ‘The Pigs Come In’ new year art event.

Click on each image for larger view.
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In The Shadow


Image: ‘Venus Rising’

Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.”

C.G. Jung, 1938.

Through his study of the unconscious, the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung defined the shadow as the unknown, dark side of personality: part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, perceived shortcomings, as well as instincts,  creative impulses and sources of renewal. He considered that the shadow side can be positive or negative and is prone to psychological projection, where people may see their own insecurities as flaws in others. Jung believed these projections can both protect and damage individuals by acting as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world. Some Jungians maintain that the shadow also holds the shadow of society, fed by neglected and repressed collective values.

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Image: exhibition views: a timeline, looking forward and back…

I developed a series of digital images as interpretations of Jung’s theory of the shadow. I exhibited a selection of these at University of Central Lancashire in May 2018, following an AA2A residency. 

shadow exhib mask, smallImage: ‘Persona’

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Image: ‘Maiden’

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Image: ‘Instinct’

I selected photographic portraits found in late 1940’s fashion publications, and interpreted their vintage aesthetic as links to past lives, to experiences of war and the period of optimism and creativity that followed. Using Photoshop technique, I added and altered, to juxtapose components in surreal montage. I drew on other Jungian archetypes as well as the shadow, such as: the ‘apocalypse’, ‘heroine’, ‘trickster’, ‘mother’ and ‘maiden’. Jung suggested that archetypes are inherited potentials: universal patterns, or models of people, behaviour, personality, that can be triggered within the psyche.

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Image: ‘Trickster’

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Image: ‘Apocalypse’

Envisioning the ambiguous presence of the shadow side, opens up perceptions of its existence not just within individuals, but on an exponential scale within contemporary cultural phenomena. Social media, News, Big Data, surveillance, democracy, globalisation, consumerism, are dynamic, mass channels where the collective unconscious is both active and susceptible.

shadow exhib audio 2shadow exhib audioVisitors could use headphones to access the audio component. Reference to selected popular American songs, once sung by female style icons of the era, crossed the senses to convey bygone ideology, emotional mood and atmosphere.

The song lyrics infer connections as well as subtle differences between ‘now’ and ‘then’ in personal relationships, social values, attitudes and aspirations.

Particular examples from the era can be seen and heard at YouTube:

The 2018 centenary celebrations of women’s suffrage brought a timely context in which to review the ongoing female r-evolution: to reflect on progress in the realms of gender equality, social relationships and individual purpose.  I aimed that the merging of temporalities would provoke reflection and ensuing conversations around the ways that personal and social lives have changed – and are still changing.

Is there a possibility to assess the darkness of the 21st century female’s shadow: our collective veil of illusion? Will there continue to be nothing but blue skies, from now on? If we use imagination to reach across the boundaries that define the passage of time to ask questions, what might the young women I have pictured, born in 1920’s and 30’s, most value, dislike, or fear about life now: if they were still young  today?

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Image:  ‘Blind Eye’


No light without shadow.