The 5th Riga International Textile and Fibre Art Triennial “Unity & Diversity” was held at the Arsenals Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art,
from the 23rd April until the 10thJune 2015. Riga, Latvia
There were 85 artists selected to take part out of 186 entrants from 28 countries worldwide. These included some well-known artists.
I was the only artist to represent
South Africa while there was one other artist from Africa who represented . Kenya
The other artists came from as far afield as
Japan, China and . Costa Rica
I spent just over a week in
Riga, the capital city of . It is a very charming city with an old history and some amazing architecture. Many of its finest old buildings are incredible examples of Art Nouveau architecture. I first learned to appreciate Art Nouveau when I studied Art for four years at the world famous Latvia Glasgow School of Art in , designed by the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The Glasgow School of Art itself is an iconic example of Art Nouveau architecture. Scotland
The exhibition in the Arsenals Halls was in the old beautiful part of the city near to where I stayed. It was once used as a munition storage place and is cavernous with many open inter-leading rooms with high lofty vaulted ceilings. It was a fine space and the exhibition designed by a museum designer was inspiring and vast. Works were both two and three dimensional in the form of installations and videos.
This exhibition marked my coming of age, with my 21st international exhibition. I have previously shown in nearby
Lithuania and Poland but not before in . Latvia
To my utter amazement, on the opening night I was presented with the Award of Recognition of the
Council. I still feel honored to have received this award from this special city. Riga City
My installation on the show was named “Simunye – We are One” (2014). In spite of many problems in our new democracy we have come a long way from the position of pre-1994 Apartheid South
Africa. My work is a tribute to Nelson Mandela’s dream of a new unified . Nokwanda (1) and I share diverse ancestry. Hers involves South African tribes, Swazi, Xhosa and Zulu. Mine includes European and Colonial South African dating back to 1820. South Africa
Kirkwood is a pioneer in her field in and internationally. She is noted for the cutting edge manner in which she combines fine art and weaving to create highly textured multi- media conceptual works. South Africa
Her unique way of mixing unorthodox materials to make sculptures and installations sets her apart. Her works are usually monumental, dramatic and manifest a powerful physical presence.
Her work since 1980 has involved an exploration of magical, ritual, social, political, environmental, and spiritual and identity themes.
The underlying message, which lies central to much of her work, is a desire to protect all forms of life. At times she has taken on the role of an activist.
Fiona Kirkwood's work has been widely recognized and highly respected internationally. She has exhibited in 12 Solo exhibitions in South Africa and South Korea and 61 group exhibitions both in South Africa and Internationally, including Scotland, Italy, France, India, Poland, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Lithuania, Latvia, Australia, Argentina, United States, Canada, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, Czech Republic and Russia.
She has works in many public and private collections in
and abroad. South Africa
She has received major awards nationally and internationally, including as a Merit Award winner for Vita Craft Now 1997,
Pretoria, South Africa; a First Prize winner at ‘Textile 05’ Kaunas Art Biennial, Lithuania, 2005 and 2015 The Award of Recognition of the Riga City Council at Unity & Diversity, 5th Riga Triennial of Textile and Fibre Art., . Riga, Latvia
Apart from her work as a practising artist, Fiona Kirkwood has lectured at several Universities in Fine Art, Art Education and Fashion Design, and run her own
. She has also worked as an art therapist, designed sets and costumes for theatre and curated exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including ‘Skin to Skin’ exhibited at the Kaunas Art Biennial, Kaunas 2007, Lithuania and Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg 2008 Art School
(1) Nokwanda was a neighbour of mine for many years. I watched her grow up as a young girl, who always smiled and waved at me and called my name. She has now become a beautiful young woman.