Born in New Zealand, Marian Fountain was introduced to the bronze casting technique while studying at Elam School of Fine Arts (1979 – 1983). Under the guidance of Paul Beadle, Fountain developed a deep respect for the traditional processes of the medium. In 1984, she received a major travel grant from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council, and travelled to London where she gained experience casting at the Royal College of Art and the Red Bronze Studio. She then moved to Italy, where she studied at the Scuola della Mediglia (Rome Mint). Fountain now lives and works in Paris.
Melding influences from European art in all its rich diversity, with her New Zealand roots and the cultures of the Pacific, Fountain uses the female form, plant life and the animal kingdom, often in states of metamorphosis, to explore themes of fertility, womanhood, conflict, change and growth.
The metamorphic quality in Fountain’s sculptural practice is a thread that runs through much of her oeuvre. Her Chrysalids, female figures with legs and arms fused in pod-like shape, are paused at the moment of transformation. In the Pandora’s Box series of medals the thighs, stomach and breasts undulate like hills, forming a human landscape. By not portraying the head, the perspective in these works is of looking down at one’s own body, creating a sensual experience that is both intimate and intense.
Fountain is a member of the Medal Art New Zealand group and has designed and made medals for the 1988 XIV Commonwealth Games, the 2003 America’s Cup and for the Friends of Birmingham Museums in 2007.
Fountain has exhibited at the British Museum, The National Gallery of Scotland, the Museo Archeologico of Milan, York Museum, Auckland War Memorial Museum and the French Mint. Her work has been displayed at the New Zealand Embassy in Paris and in London and is held in the British Museum and Smithsonian Museum collections. She exhibits regularly in Europe, and has kept a continuous presence in the New Zealand art world, exhibiting in New Zealand every few years.