Fiona Jane Metcalfe (b. 1957 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa) completed a BA (HDE) Degree in Languages and went on to graduate with academic colours in Fine Art at the institutions now known as the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. The only student ever to double-major in Painting and Sculpture, she graduated as one of the most brilliant students on record from the Department of Fine Art, and was singled out by Dr Raymund van Niekerk, then Director of the South African National Gallery, as a young South African artist of unequalled talent.
It was also where she earned the nickname 'the Deadly Eye', due to her ability to see and render with an uncanny degree of precision that left her lecturers and peers speechless. Hayden Proud (Acting Director, South African National Gallery), along with many other leading gallerists and art experts, describes Fiona's portraiture as exceptional.
Fiona has worked as both a sculptor and painter, but since the early 1990’s her focus has shifted increasingly to painting, and more particularly to the art of realism and portraiture. Her decision to favour painting over sculpture was prompted by the birth of her daughters, Erin and Anna. In Fiona's words: “The messy and sometimes harmful processes of sculpture didn't really work too well with breastfeeding a baby and entertaining a small toddler in the studio.” The decision to be a hands-on mother shaped her art to a large extent in the years that followed.
Also being reluctant to engage in the self-promotion, hype and careerism which typically characterises the artworld, Fiona discovered that working on a commission basis directly and personally with clients affords an uncomplicated and effective way of working.
Several of Fiona’s recent commissions have undoubtedly confirmed her reputation as one of South Africa’s finest portrait painters. She works in the medium of traditional oil painting, using techniques and materials that conform to the highest conservation standards.