Born in Queensland in 1964, Aboriginal artist Fiona Foley lived with her parents in Harvey Bay, then at Mt. Isa and later in Hornsby (Sydney) from 1982-83.
After graduating with a Certificate of Art from East Sydney Technical College in 1983 Fiona visited St Martins School of Art in London for two months. On her return to Sydney she worked as an assistant to the printmaker Max Miller. In 1984 she returned to study at the Sydney College of the Arts and gained a Batchelor of Visual Arts in 1986. In 1987 she received a Diploma of Education from the University of Sydney.
Fiona has travelled extensively over the country of her people at Fraser Island in Queensland as well as spending time in Ramingining and Maningrida, two communities in Arnhem land, in the Northern Territory. Near Ramingining she participated in a number of women’s ceremonies, an experience she has successfully articulated in a number of her works. She is a founding member of the Boomalli Urban Aboriginal Artists Ko-op in Sydney and was a recipient of a Professional Development Grant from the Australia Council in 1988. She was also Artist-in-Residence at Griffith University in 1988.
Originally working in prints and forms of collage she expanded to larger sculptural installations in natural timber, shells, animal bones and more modern materials. This raw matter, a form of cultural memory, increasingly came to be collected from, and emblematic of, the beaches and shell middens of Fraser Island itself, as a way of reclaiming the history of her people and the land itself – an art practice carried on in a custodial role.
In 1989 Fiona was the Print Instructor at the Ramingining Print Workshop. She is also the first urban Aboriginal artist whose work was collected by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.