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The Fandangoe Kid x The Civic

The Civic, Barnsley are pleased to announce the first in an annual rolling programme of Visual Art based artist residencies. Traditionally a platform for fledgling theatre companies, CARP (Civic Artist Residency Programme) will now expand to include visual arts, when in Spring 2019, the gallery will be turned into a studio space and the international print artist The Fandangoe Kid will work there over three months, producing new work inspired by the stories of the Barnsley communities she will work with.

For the last few years, the London based artist has been making a name for herself by plastering the streets of London and New York with her bold and moving narrative driven statements on the beauty found within the trauma of loss, love, gender constructs and masculinity in crisis.

Each week, she will invite a different community group into the studio to create new artworks, and on select dates throughout her residency, invite the public into her studio to see her practise.  

The Gallery Studio will be open to the public on select dates February through to April. Dates will be published online at www.barnsleycivic.co.uk in January 2019.

Exclusive interview with The Fandangoe Kid:

Please introduce yourself

My name is The Fandangoe Kid, well that's not my real name, it's Annie Nicholson but you can call me Fandangoe. I'm a visual artist and I make honest and often giant narratives about taboo subject matters. These narratives exist in many forms, from walls to clothing.

What is your career background, pre-Fandangoe Kid?

I worked at the BFI after university for many years, having studied film at Paris Sorbonne, then I did a masters in graphic design at LCC in Elephant and Castle. I've worked with young people in inner city London for about 12 years, and in 2014, I set up an art department in a brand new school in Hackney; my remit being to encourage young people to know themselves better through their creative practice, however that may look to them.

Were you given the name Fandangoe Kid or did someone inspire it?

It comes from my parents. My dad was a northerner, from Blackpool and he had a mate at school called Durango Snotball and also loved that film The Durango Kid. My mum called me Fandangoe and one day, a little drunk round the family table, when I was at art school and asking 'what should my alter ego artist name be', The Fandangoe Kid was born.

What inspired your choice of the paste-up as your go to medium?

Initially, not having much money while simultaneously having a real urgency to tell my stories and to shed some layers of love and loss, grief and survival and to really make my work accessible to everyone that was interested in relating to it. I wanted to show that you don't have to be in a gallery to feel a response to someone's work, and also share my pain because I feel like I have survived some heavy circumstances against many odds, losing almost all of my family over the past 7 years, but I'm still here and along the way I have learnt a few things.

I also wanted to talk about this pain publicly for other people who may be suffering to access this. I feel like having survived this far, I should use what I know to potentially be helpful to other people. At the same time, I never intended to be prescriptive in my work, just to tell stories of my own experience. No one was talking about death and loss and pain when I experienced it as a young woman (or it felt like this) and so I really want to smash that boundary and open up a dialogue--this is something we will all experience at some point, in some way, so let's start talking and understanding ourselves.

What are the ingredients that make up the Fandengoe Kid aesthetic and can you tell us some of the artists and designers that inspire you?

I like to say what I feel and be honest and vulnerable. I find a real strength in this. I'm fascinated by strength and what that really means. My dad was a boxer and my mum was a real English rose but when it came down to it, she ran the show in our family. She stole the depths of everyone's hearts and didn't need to take any credit for it, she was just honest and herself - no front. I saw so much strength in that, I saw so much in both of them, in many different ways. When I lost most of my family in an accident in 2011, I was forced to face myself in my most broken, raw state. I had to push through so many unpleasant truths about loss and pain to get to where I am now. I want to tell honest stories about what I know and what I've experienced, and I really do know about loss and death and mental health. I want to challenge taboos and break with the status quo and that traditional stiff upper lip British silence.

Aesthetically, I love Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer. They are on a pedestal for me, putting their narratives on billboards, buses, projections etc, I think their mode of making their voice so public is incredibly powerful and so broadly accessible. 

What is the best advice you can give to other emerging practicioners?

Just be true to who you really are: be honest, don't try and be anyone you're not, everyone reveals themselves eventually anyway so try and do good by yourself and other people you come into contact with. Don't be an asshole and keep your integrity and your reason for making art in the first place at the forefront, no matter what.

You don’t fit the media stereotype of a street artist – not just being a woman, but the visual style of your art and your uniform too. Are these all conscious decisions and possibly a building of the Fandangoe Kid ‘brand’?

Haha! Well I come from a family of very big characters, many of whom would love a dress up, that's in my blood and always has been, it's part of my survival, often to dress up boldly is my armour through what I deal with in terms of my trauma and loss. And it's also fun and I associate it with some beautiful memories. My dad used to ring me up before I was going over to visit him and ask me what colours I had on so he could collect me in a  complimenting palette and he could go 'out on the razzle dazzle with our kid'. So it means a lot to me. And the street art is a way of making delivering what I felt at the time to be an urgent message and for me it still is the best mode of communicating my voice. At the time, it felt like  I just had to get it out of me and into the open. But it was also considered, I feel that when you are doing this kind of thing you do have a social responsibility for who may be receiving it. The content is heavy and often hard hitting and I wanted to approach that with sensitivity while also staying true to my story and there are many. In our family, if you couldn't tell a good story then your couldn't get a word in edgeways, so you needed to be good at it. I come from a quite anarchic 'fuck it' mentality family, they were forever breaking rules, never wanting to go with the flow or fit in and when I was young I found it mortifying. It turns out I have embodied many of their spirits as I grow older!