Interview by James Owens
Published July 18, 2019
JO: Hi Frances – What concepts/themes are you exploring in your practice?
FS: In these pieces I’m exploring power, sexuality, loss of control and attempts to regain control.
JO: What is your process when making work?
FS: My routine changes day to day-sometimes I’ll get up early and start a drawing straight away. Sometimes I don’t get going til late in the afternoon and on those days I’ll work into the early hours. Everything I make usually starts with a drawing from observation or from my phone. I like to repeat an idea or image, working relatively quickly on each piece to keep the energy high. Once I really get going on series I become obsessed with changing the colours and messing around with mark-making. This is when printmaking, particularly monotype, feeds my momentum – it’s fast, serendipitous and the printed results always surprise me.
JO: Where do the ideas for your work come from?
FS: “Write something” has been a way for me to work through memories of childhood sexual abuse-I suddenly found myself dealing with flashbacks so I contacted support networks but I’m having to wait 6-12 months for therapy. In the meantime, I decided to focus my energy on drawing, painting and printing these memories as a way of gaining some sense of control. This purposeful placement of ideas happens a lot less often than my usual process of letting ideas emerge through experimenting with materials and techniques. It’s been much easier to shy away from personal experiences, to dismiss them, decide that they’re not that interesting and say the things that I want to say through someone else’s body. “Messing with Picasso” is a rebellious and playful response to all of the above. Having fun with this figure and the printing process has been a massive relief whilst working from my more difficult memories. These monotypes grew from an erotic drawing by Picasso “Nu (Nude)”1979 that I manipulated so that the figure’s flipping the bird-I wanted them to be solid, powerful and sexually uninviting. I’m still repeating and evolving this figure but currently there are 20 of them living their best lives.
JO: Name three of your favourite artworks and why?
FS: 1. The Adonis Plant (Fukujuso)‘ (c.1810s) Hokusai.
I will never get tired of looking at the intricate, swooping line work, colours and powerful sensuality of Japanese Shunga. The narratives that often accompanies them are equally tender, humorous and sex positive. I was first drawn to them by the fact that the figures take up equal space in the composition-often so entwined that you can’t immediately tell which body parts belong to which figure.
2. Dorothy Iannone, I Have Got Such A Marvelous Cock, 1970/71, Collage and acrylic on canvas, 190 x 150 cm
I love the exhibitionism, androgyny, and shamelessness in Ianonne’s work. I first saw her work at an exhibition and I stood looking at this massive painting behind an elderly couple- the man asked the woman what it said and she read it out, “I have got such a marvellous cock-what beautiful heavy balls I have…” and they giggled and hugged each other. It made me think, what a brilliant and perfect reaction to a painting that was.
3. Rodin’s Watercolours
This is just one of Rodin’s isolated watercolour figures – I don’t know what else to say about this work apart from the fact that I can’t get enough of it!
Discover more of Frances’ work on Instagram @francis.stanfield