Five Quick Questions: Barbro Fitzjohn


In the first of our Five Quick Questions series, TS intern Molly Joyce chats to artist Barbro Fitzjohn about her exhibition Colour Abstraction, which is currently on display at Turner Sims. Barbro is exploring line and shape using colour and part of the exhibition is painted onto matchboxes, which are available to purchase from our Box Office.


Turner Sims: Hi Barbro, we love your new exhibit Colour Abstraction! What’s the inspiration behind the exhibition?
Barbro: The inspiration comes from my friends, family, teachers and life experiences, but also from the artists I have met in books and galleries. The bigger paintings are perhaps a throwback to younger days when I wove wall tapestries.

TS: You’re also a former Turner Sims Box Office Assistant! What’s your favourite memory from your time here at TS?
B: One memory stands out. When Max Richter came to performed his newly composed The Blue Note Book in 2004. We had no idea of his music but were totally captivated by the beauty and intensity of his work. At the interval it was almost as if we had forgotten to breathe. Amazingly, there was only about 50 people in the audience – Turner Sims regulars really missed out, but well done to Kevin for booking an ensemble on the way to becoming famous. Also there are happy memories from evenings when the takings balanced at the end of a shift and you could relax with a glass of wine and, of course, you always had the bonus of hearing wonderful music from the auditorium at the same time.

TS: I particularly love that your art work is painted onto matchboxes. Why did you choose to use matchboxes?
B: Matchboxes are a perfect size for quick ideas. They also resemble small, miniature canvasses and are useful and decorative on mantle pieces ready to light a fire. The influence also comes from childhood. In the village where I grew up, around Christmas the local community arranged an auction of painted matchboxes and the money raised went to good causes. It was so exciting and rewarding to paint a box and then see it being sold. I guess I want to return to that experience.

TS: All proceeds from the sale of the matchboxes are going to So Co Music Project – how did you become involved with the Southampton charity?
B: I didn’t know about SoCo Music until Jilly told me about them, but knew I wanted to raise money for a local music initiative.

TS: Lastly, where is your favourite place to visit in Southampton?
B: The Common! On Saturday morning at ParkRun there is a stretch just a kilometre into the run by the fishing lake that is reminiscent of Sweden.

TS: Thanks for chatting with us Barbro!

Barbro’s exhibit is being displayed from Monday 14th January – Sunday 10th March 2019.
All artwork is available for sale via the Box Office, payment can be made by cash, credit/debit card or cheque made payable to the University of Southampton. Once paid for, artwork may be collected from the Box Office after the exhibition closes.

98 Matchboxes –SoCo Music Project. You can own a small piece of original art painted onto a matchbox for only £10. All proceeds from the sale of 98 Matchboxes will be donated to the local Southampton charity SoCo Music.

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