Frances makes people-focussed pieces using embroidery and mixed-media textile techniques. Her subjects vary depending on what catches her imagination.
Although I had a schooling in traditional drawing and painting, it was only much later that I discovered textiles as an art form. This is my third career; the first was in scientific administration, the second in commercial mediation. And wow! The connection to cloth was immediate; I love the colour, the feel, the range, the texture, the flexibility and the capability one has as an artist to change and transform fabric with thread.
Over the years I have enjoyed learning and developing many textile art techniques. I am never going to be an artist who perfects, and sticks with, a single technique. Instead I am a happy collector of many possibilities, each waiting to be selected and harnessed in pursuit of a particular project. If pushed, however, I describe myself as an embroiderer. It’s how I work most often.
Somewhere along the way I discovered a fascination with purses. I have an academic background in psychology and am a sucker for crime novels. The idea of imposing on myself a discipline relating to small compartments – miniature open and shut cases, a potential for mystery – appeals. There are at least two sides to everything; insides don’t always correspond with outsides. It’s a bit mad, but it keeps me happy and occupied.
So that’s what I now do. I am an oral historian attached to the University of Hertfordshire and enjoy talking to people about their lives and work. I also enjoy reading, writing poetry and singing, am a keen allotment grower and enjoyer of the natural world. I take delight in life's risible aspects. All these interests offer fascinating subjects to portray. It’s just that, wherever I can, I set myself the additional challenge of incorporating a purse or a frame or making items that hold and contain things: other items, ideas, inconsistencies, histories, etc.
I work too slowly and idiosyncratically to take on commissions – which is probably just as well; it seems to me that producing lots of art is not helpful given current environmental priorities. So I embroider simply for the delight in the materials and process and, where I can, I like to exhibit. My pieces are generally available for sale.