Robert Fones

“Being an artist is … also about curating, writing, producing artist books, and teaching. All those activities connect me to a community, and I feel very good about the sense that I am contributing to a community as well as asking something of that community.” (2011)

Robert Fones works in a variety of media, including photography, sculpture, painting, photo-installation, and watercolour. Often called an archaeologist of the present, Fones uses cartography, language, typography, and geology in his works. He explores topics such as history and past civilizations, the land, industrial production, and manufactured objects. 

Fones began his career in the vibrant art scene of 1960s London, Ontario. In high school, he attended weekend art workshops, where he met instructor Greg Curnoe, who became the model for Fones’ artistic career. With a grant from The Canada Council for the Arts, Fones rented a studio and began working as an artist. In 1973, he became a founding member of London’s Forest City Gallery. He later moved to Toronto, where he lives and works today. Fones has taught throughout his career. He is currently teaching in the Art & Art History program at Sheridan College.

Fones’ interest in industrial production and archaeological sites shows in mock museum exhibits like Butter Models, 1979. He increasingly used photography after 1985, often combining it with sculpture as in Insert / Press / Deposit, 1989 

In 1990, he curated an exhibition of Russell Spanner’s early 1950s furniture for the Power Plant gallery in Toronto. Fones has published poetry collections, artist books, reviews and articles. He is a winner of the 2011 Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts.