Marian Fannon Christian by Reggie Oliver

I must confess am not one of nature’s “collectors”. I am, I suppose, more of a serendipitous picker up of good things, but I do now have several of Marian Fannon’s prints and drawings on my walls and intend to have more. So I have, I suppose, inadvertently become a collector of her work: and it is a very good thing to be! That is because there is something unique and wonderful about her art, but also because it has such flair and variety. It is very difficult to define her style as a result, but there are three main aspects to it in all of which she excels.

First: Line. Her wonderful sense of line is particularly evident in her great black and white drawings, but is present in all her works. The line is fluid and clear but also full of sparkling detail: like a fractal, each part as complex and precisely handled as the whole. And yet, by some miracle, the overall design never looks fussy or over-elaborate. How she brings this off I have no idea: one day she must tell us.

Secondly: Colour. Her sense of colour is extremely delicate, but never weak or insipid. It is never mere “decoration” but always part of the design. She has always combined bold colours with more subtle shades, but recently I have noticed her use of colour has become even bolder and more striking. I have just acquired a piece which combines rich red golds with dark maroon in a majestic way, and there is just a hint of heavenly blue at the top which sets them off. Amazing!

Third: Design. From the very first Fannon has used pattern in an astonishingly fluent but controlled way. Her works are notable for their wonderful filligree drawings, like ethereal cobwebs or the ghostly skeletons of flowers. This would be charming in itself but there is more to it than that. Her drawings and paintings always have a strong and suggestive overall sense of design. The wonderful line and colour is never arbitrary: there is always a direction and a meaning behind it. There is true composition. That is what makes you go back to a work of art again and again, to look at it as you pass by it for wonder and refreshment.

The great Lilian Bayliss, who to all intents and purposes founded the National Theatre and the E.N.O, once said that a great work of art was like a window that gives us a glimpse “beyond the four walls of our lives.” That is exactly how I feel about Marian Fannon’s work: they are windows onto new worlds: fantastic, colourful, strange, brilliant, profound. I have quite a few such windows in my house and intend to have more.

Reggie Oliver
November 2018