The Inventors In Conversation | Fern Toynton

As part of our 2018 Summer programme The Inventors, we have teamed up with the University of Portsmouth’s Faculty of the Creative & Cultural Industries.



Image: Fern offsite with our Apprentice Ollie in Buckland, Portsmouth


A number of University students, including second year Illustration student Matt Gurr, have worked alongside three commissioned artists, delivering a wide-range of activities and events.

As we learnt from last time, Matt joined The Inventors to discover more about the inner workings of a gallery, meeting new artists and developing new skills prior to starting his third year of study.

Click here to read Matt’s interview with The Inventors artist Ming Wu.



MG: You pride yourself on making functional pieces, is there ever a compromise between creativity and functionality?

FT: I really do enjoy the way things look and I like my work to be playful in colour but also in function.

Function always has to come first because otherwise you’ve made something that’s useless however, the way I usually get to that functioning point is through a creative process; for example the pieces I’m making for The Inventors, started by looking at the process of inflation and I inflated any material I could.

I tried metal, paper, balloons, PVC, Hypalon and I just let myself get carried away. I think when you get to know a process so well you start understanding what will function and what won’t. So really both go hand in hand with an element of trial and error.


Image: Fern in our Artist’s Studio


MG: What’s your most ambitious piece that you’ve ever created?

FT: I think probably this inflation project, the way the gallery actually found my work was a child’s building toy that I made was featured in Crafts Magazine.

So, I’d done loads of inflation tests and I found that if you inflate something through a hole it creates a joint because you can’t pull it back through. So with the same principle of the children building toy, I wanted to see how big I could push that, I knew that it worked with light wood and normal balloons.

All of this project has had so much work done to it, its come all the way from a toy and now to furniture with the same process, it is definitely the longest process that i’ve ever done.

I kind of like this scaling up thing because it becomes more serious but equally it is still a bit silly.

MG: Without spoiling anything what can the public expect from your display at Victorious Festival and later, at the exhibition at Aspex?

FT: It’s going to be fun, it’ll have inflatable components, hopefully comfortable and obviously furniture!


Image: Our weekly workshop Family Saturdays, where participants created recycled furniture with Fern



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