Constable and the marine chronometer
The last quarter of the year is crazy busy in the interiors business. Trade shows and art fairs cram themselves into the September and October calendar and if, like Fi Burke, you’re a creative artist you don’t get a chance to catch your breath before pre-Christmas sales fill November days, and nights. With portfolio works displayed online, Fi is able to sell worldwide and I hear she’s experiencing increased interest from collectors in the USA.
Fi Burke was the first person I thought of when a client suggested we make a piece of art from the discarded innards of a Steinway piano. Because Fi specialises in site-responsive, bespoke, commissioned art pieces which connect with a setting, place, idea or heritage, I knew she’d know what to do with them.
Every artist needs a new challenge and when I got in touch she told me about her recent exploits.
‘I took myself off to Hampstead on a research trip’, she said, ‘to discover some of the places Constable would have painted.’
The aim of the trip was to gather information, ideas and inspiration to create new works to form part of Fi’s Consider Constable series. But then something happened, it often does when you have an open enquiring mind. While visiting Constable’s grave Fi discovered the grave of John Harrison.
‘I’ve been enchanted by his story ever since’, she said. ‘He was a humble English carpenter and clockmaker who invented the marine chronometer, a long-sought-after device for solving the problem of calculating longitude while at sea. His solution revolutionized navigation and greatly increased the safety of long-distance sea travel. The problem he solved was considered so important following the Scilly naval disaster of 1707 that the British Parliament offered financial rewards of up to £20,000 (equivalent to £2.84 million today) under the 1714 Longitude Act. Harrison came 39th in the BBC’s 2002 public poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. His determination and skill saved lives and essentially changed the way the world operated.’
When you put heart and soul into your work you genuinely hope it makes a difference to those who see it, buy it, and live with it.
‘What do you hope your customers say about your art when they talk to their friends?’ I asked.
‘That the art means a lot to them and enhances the feel of their space. That my intervention has made a positive impact.’
See Fi Burke’s entry in Select a Maker and get in touch with her direct.