Born 1966 Merseyside, England
Fiona Banner is a London-based artist who works across several media to pursue her artistic exploration of language and its limitations, including how it can lead to conflict. Banner completed a Fine Art BA at Kingston Polytechnic (1986–9) followed by an MA at Goldsmiths College (1991–3). One of the Young British Artists, she first rose to prominence in the 1990s with her written stream-of-consciousness transcriptions (known as ‘wordscapes’) of Hollywood war films. Banner founded her own publishing house The Vanity Press in 1997, which began with The Nam (1997), a 1,000-page ‘wordscape’ of six Vietnam films. Her transcription of a pornographic film in pink ink, entitled Arsewoman in Wonderland (2001), led to her Turner Prize nomination in 2002. Along with language, Banner’s fascination with fighter planes culminated in her installation of two decommissioned Royal Air Force jets at Tate Britain in 2010. More recently, Banner has been producing activist art in collaboration with Greenpeace. She was elected a Royal Academician in 2017 and became Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy in 2020.
In Beagle Punctuation (2011), two neon question marks and a full stop conjure the image of Snoopy, the star character in Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts. The neon pieces have been hand-blown by the artist Fiona Banner herself, giving the glass a wobbly, imperfect finish not normally seen in traditional neon signage.
Punctuation, as a framing device, resonates with the artist’s constant fascination with language, about which she describes: ‘The relationship between spoken language, written language, and sculptural form relies on an acknowledgement that words are expansions of our physical selves, so I started to explore the physicality of works.’ Banner investigates the superfluous boundaries between object, image, and text in much of her work. The full stop is insightful to this investigation, representing both a beginning and an end.