In the Studio with Fleur Simon

Multidisciplinary, London-born artist Fleur Simon explores her concepts through pigmented epoxy resin, ceramic and paint; capturing strong human emotions such as the sublime - the conflicting nature of overpowering beauty, and loss. We spoke to Fleur to discover her main influences and to find out more about her most-recent works.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist? 
I think I took myself a bit more seriously as an artist once I left art school and really started to commit to making work. 
Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?
I grew up in London. I definitely think that has had a direct impact on my work as the materials I use are very  industrial (resin, plywood etc) and a lot of my imagery is about my longing for open green spaces from an urban  environment. Quite a lot of my paintings play with this paradox of the natural and the toxic, works titled Acid  Rainfall or Plastic Beach for example.
Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. Have you gone through the traditional route of art school and what was your experience?  

I started my foundation at Central Saint Martins. I then received the opportunity of a scholarship to Paris College of Art which was  much more focused on drawing, a very different experience from CSM. After 6 months there, I started my degree  at City and Guilds of London Art school which had a brilliant balance of technique/craft and concept in their  approach. Here I worked in ceramics and paint until I graduated 2 years ago. 

What’s the message of your work? How would you describe your aesthetic?

My paintings are concerned with Edmund Burke’s concept of the sublime in nature, exploring its paradox  between the beautiful and the overpowering.  

Dripping epoxy resin and pigment onto wooden boards on the floor I reference ‘action painting’, creating impulsive paintings, partially reliant on chance. Layering the works and adding pigments at different stages I  explore depth, moving between feelings of endless space and claustrophobic boundaries. The fluidity of the  material and pouring method envision the nature of emotion; the spaces in the works fluctuating between the  natural and the surreal, the suffocating and the tranquil. 

Drawing on artist Julian Stair’s work and curation, my paintings play into a church-like gallery viewing experience.  Drawing on Christian religious imagery of afterlife, my paintings serve as windows into spiritual spaces; their  reflective surfaces imbedding the viewer into the landscape. 

Are your works planned? What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? 

My works are planned. Because of the nature of the material, I have to be quite practical before I start working as the resin needs to balance on the surface correctly and not drain off and go to waste! Most of my time in the  studio is spent preparing and trying to create the best possible environment for these chance-based paintings to  capture something beautiful. 

People will all take what they want from these paintings as they are so abstract, but I suppose a sensation of  space, and an the experience of the intensity of colour, would be the main take away. I try not to have the viewer  in mind when making the work otherwise I will keep second guessing myself.

Who and what are your greatest influences?

Ryan Sullivan, Howard Hodgkin, Wolfgang Tillman’s ‘freischwimmer’ series, Ron Mueck, Julian Stair, Betty  Woodman.

Wolfgang Tillmans, Freischwimmer 147, 2009, 2017

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

My ideal conditions are a dust free studio space, for the spirit level to be perfectly balanced on the wood I’m  working on, and for it not to be too hot outside! It’s horrible working in resin when it’s hot.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise? How has your art evolved? 

Beginning to working resin was the big change in my practice. Beforehand, my work was very textural whereas  resin creates a very smooth, glossy surface. During the final year of my degree I created large-scale ceramic sculptures, however since graduating it has been hard to find an affordable kiln to use so I have focussed primarily on  resin pouring techniques. In recent months it has been very interesting to play with layering of acrylic paint and resin and explore these optical boundaries. 

What are your goals for the future?

In the future, I would be very interested to pick up ceramics again and exhibit ceramic sculptures alongside my  paintings. I would be keen to do a lot more joint shows with other artists, and continue to be involved in critiques  with my other art school graduates.

How have you been keeping creative during the pandemic?

Luckily my studio space was at home so I was able to work throughout the pandemic. I set myself the task to use  up all leftover materials in my studio throughout the months before buying anything new as I thought this would  keep me focused and save some money too. From this, I now have a small body of work which I hope to show  over the coming months.


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