Fiona Kirkwood

Fiona Kirkwood is a South African artist who lives in
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. She works in fibre and mixed media
to produce contemporary sculptures and installations

Artist's Statement


This installation at the 13th World AIDS Conference in Durban showed a gender and race neutral terminally ill HIV/AIDS patient, whose hand is symbolically reaching out for help. The head of the patient is composed of symbols and shapes of the HIV virus, which I have personally observed through a microscope. The beaded HIV/AIDS ribbons on the arms and body symbolize my support for people living with HIV/AIDS.

The condom quilt on the bed, made up of 840 condoms, represents the protective quality of the condom and reinforces the need for a continuing HIV/AIDS prevention programme.

On the floor is information concerning HIV/AIDS including medical literature and press cuttings which I gathered over a two year period.

The video adds a multi-layered meaning to the work.


The Coat is used here as a metaphor for protection of individuals, society, culture and history as well as a recognizable symbol of the human form. The six large works reflect my awareness of the spirit of South Africa, of Zulu culture and history, the transition from the apartheid era to post-apartheid democracy, South African news and how it impacts on our lives and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. They also reflect the traditional beadwork techniques and the energy and vibrancy of KwaZulu- Natal where I live.


For me Magic refers to the inexpressible, mysterious, transforming, hypnotic, fascinating, mesmerizing, astral and supernatural.
I have experienced and explored magic in nature, in the rituals of religions, sangomas, astrology, in the belief systems and rituals of indigenous people in various countries that I have visited, such as Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Sri Lanka, India, Russia and South Africa where I now live, (having grown up in Scotland). I have had many inexplicable magical experiences in my own life.
I believe that the transforming act of creation is magical and I like to think that many of the works that I have made have a certain quality or presence that is beyond words.

SURVIVAL (2003 - 2008)

My work "Survival" speaks about animated existence, the soul, the spirit and endurance, continuing to exist in spite of danger. It also refers to life's fragility, in the very ethereal, impermanent and transparent nature of the materials used. As an artist I continue to use condoms in some of my works to try to promote public awareness to the fact that condoms can create a major difference between life and death, particularly in fighting the HIV / AIDS Pandemic.

I want to also draw attention to the female condom, little known about or used in South Africa. This gives women the power to protect themselves against HIV / AIDS as well as STD's and pregnancy

I like the fact that the word "SURVIVAL" contains within it the letters for the words "VIRUS", "SAVE LIFE!!!" and "VIVA"


The word "square" can mean "honourable, equality, justice and balance".

10 years of freedom and democracy are currently being celebrated in South Africa since the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President in 1994. He has played an honourable role in bringing justice, balance and equality to our land. Images of his face make up the number 10.

The South African flags are symbols of our rainbow democracy.

The square work itself encompasses a number of other squares.