Frances Ferdinands, Artist – Toronto

Frances Ferdinands was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and immigrated to Toronto as a child. She has exhibited her work for four decades in places such as New York, London, Honolulu, Paris, Bogota, and across Canada. Her practice is largely based in painting and creating installations. Her work is rooted in a love of the decoration and craft of non-Western cultures, and the beauty and fragility of the natural world. Her solo exhibition Covenant of Circles is on display at the Art Gallery of Northumberland until June 29.

  1. Birds

Spring brings the return of glorious colour with the goldfinches, rose-breasted grosbeaks, orioles (who devour an orange a day), and indigo buntings.

  1. Thrifting

In small towns, thrift stores abound. Each one is a marvelous treasure “haunt”. My favourite is Beyond the Blue Box in Cobourg, Ontario. The beads, buttons, and doilies in my current installation come from years of scouring.

  1. Thank you, Pattern & Decoration movement

Frances Ferdinands, Many Moons, 2024, acrylic, marker, and beads on canvas

The P&D movement of the 1970s looked outside of Western culture and saw the sensuous and ornamental as legitimate, complex, and sophisticated as the icons of modernism.

  1. Music

As a classically trained pianist, and one who works intuitively in my visual creations, I find that the genius of Keith Jarrett stands above the rest. Sadly, he plays no more. But not a week goes by without a listen to The Köln Concert, which, from my first hearing in 1976 to now, remains an improvisatory masterpiece. The backstory to this performance makes it even the more extraordinary.

  1. Sri Lankan authors

Frances Ferdinands, Red Rose, 2016, acrylic on watercolour paper (ROM purchase)

I recently read two brilliant books – The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida and Brotherless Night – both set within the twenty-six-year civil war. Through our art, we try to make sense of the horrors. I did this through tracing the history of Ceylon’s colonization with the Atomizer Collection, a series of ten decorated hand grenades in traditional Sri Lankan patterns.