Fiona MacDonald attended the College of Art, Brisbane and received a Bachelor of Arts, Fine Arts from the South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia.
Fiona MacDonald began exhibiting in Sydney in the mid-1980s at Hogarth Gallery and then at Mori Gallery in Catherine Street in Leichhardt and Day Street in Sydney City. She is represented by The Cross Art Projects in Kings Cross in Sydney.
Fiona MacDonald often works with regional archives, collections and communities to think through global history from a local perspective. She has undertaken several commissions and residencies working with and interpreting museums and their collection. In addition, Rockhampton born Fiona MacDonald has developed an art practice based on her close ties to her hometown that straddles the local/regional and the metropolitan/global. Since 1993 has researched archives and collections in Rockhampton and Central Queensland to create a ‘portrait of a people’ living in a mid-sized Australian town over time.
This work was installed in various venues in Rockhampton before traveling further a field. The bodies of work completed in Rockhampton since 1993 are 'Universally Respected’, shown at the Rockhampton Club; 'Mob’ at Mori Gallery, Sydney; 'Close’, exhibited Rockhampton Botanic Gardens Interpretive Centre and Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne in 1995; 'School’, exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1996 and 'Hello Joe’ shown at the Rockhampton City Gallery, 2009.
The counter-point to the 'Local Studies’ series are the 'Foreign Affairs’ projects about social turmoil and democracy. Selected solo exhibitions and projects from this group of works include ‘Lobby’, ‘Fold’, ‘Spin’ a suite of three exhibitions in New York at Pace University and Daneyal Mahmood Gallery, New York (2007); Dream Home, Gfineart, Washington DC, USA (2006); Strangely Familiar, UTS Gallery, University of Technology, Sydney (curator Ricky Subritzky, 2005.) A related series of watercolour paintings are of 'Riots’ and riotous or celebratory crowds or mobs around the world. These are presented as tongue-in-cheek formalist paintings (eg 'Red Movement’.)
In late 2009 a survey exhibition called ‘Local Studies, Foreign Affairs’, Fiona MacDonald at Artspace Mackay will, for the first time, bring together the Rockhampton works (18 December 2009 – 31 January 2010, curated by Jo Holder). The project juxtaposes selected work from the Local Studies a series of 4 Suites made in Rockhampton and the panoramic Foreign Affairs series.
Fiona MacDonald’s work has also been seen in major contemporary exhibitions such as the 9th Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia and Australian Perspecta, Art Gallery of NSW. She has exhibited in Tokyo, Paris, London, Washington DC and New York. Other museum or collection based projects and exhibitions include 'One Square Mile’, Museum of Brisbane, City Hall Brisbane (2003); The Australia Projects: Federation Festival, RMIT Gallery Melbourne (curator Juliana Engberg, 2001); Photography is Dead Long Live Photography, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (curator Linda Michaels, 1996); Seven Histories of Australia, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne (curator Liz Williamson, 1996; The Aberrant Object: Women and Surrealism, Museum of Modern Art at Heide (curator Juliana Engberg, 1994) Second Nature P3 Art Tokyo, Japan (curator Sally Couacaud, 1991)and A First Look: Philip Morris 83-86, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (curator James Mollison, 1986.)
Catalogue publications include: Universally Respected (University of Central Queensland, 1993); Honeymoon (Joan Kerr, Mitchell Library, SLNSW 1992); Cyclopaedia (Eloise Lindsay, Elizabeth Bay House, Sydney 1990). Her work also features in twenty group exhibition catalogues.
Web exhibition catalogues: http://oj.hss.uts.edu.au/strangelyfamiliar/strangelyfamiliar.pdf and http://hss.uts.edu.au/dreamhome (2007)
Public Art Projects: include Palimpsest, Customs House Sydney Public Art Project for the City of Sydney 1998 (curator Sally Couacaud); Time Walk, Campbell Parade, Bondi, Waverley Council 1999; Millennium Tympanum, Sydney International Airport, Sydney Olympics 2000 (curator Jo Holder). Her concept for the Sea of Hands proposed by Jo Holder and AAAR! (Australian Artists Against Racism!) to ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) in 1997 proved to be a powerful tool for Australian Reconciliation.
Fiona MacDonald’s work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of New Zealand, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney as well as regional gallery and university collections. She is also represented in private collections in Australia, London, Chicago, New York and Washington DC.