An exhibition to accompany the publication of Finding Frances – the biography of Frances Darlington (Sculptor).
The Old Joiner’s Shop, Upsall. 9th– 28th November 2013
Monday – Thursday 12pm – 4pm. Saturdays by appointment.
1. Pencil Portrait of a relief sculptor. (2011)
2. Fairies (c.1917)
A collaborative drawing by Frances Darlington drawn with her twin nieces Marjory and Joan Marriott, and featuring their brother Harry Marriott. Coloured in by the children. c.1917
3. Collage (2011)
Watercolour and photocopy. Joan Marriott (Frances’ niece) with a flag on the swing in the garden at 16 Leadhall Lane, Harrogate, home of Frances’ sister Dorothy.
4. Photograph (c.1897)
Studio photograph of Frances Darlington c.1897, the year Frances started at the Slade School of Art. Optimised digitally using contemporary technology. (Swankolab app.)
5. Drawing (c.1937)
Marjory Marriott (niece) by Frances Darlington c.1937 on her engagement to Ray Bilsborrow.
6. I Stole the Kings Road (2012)
Theatrical Assemblage with looped projection. 2012. (Long listed for the Threadneedle Art Prize 2012)
Central to the looped sequence is a photograph of the dilapidated Wentworth Studios before their demolition in the 1950s. Frances held a studio her for five years. In its decrepit state it somehow captures the frailty of the old art scene; a type of art production which relied upon studio practise and craftsmanship. The Kings Road and Chelsea area has resonances of its own. Steeped in Bohemian history since the days of Rossetti, Chelsea has reverberated velvets, mystics and beats in every ensuing year since Dante Gabriel took out a lease on Cheyne walk. So much of the British idea of “artist” is associated with that area, with the Pre-Raphaelites, Ellen Terry (who lived there), Pink Floyd who recorded at Sound Technique studios on adjoining Church street (where Charles Kingsley who wrote The Water Babies also lived). The Beatles opened up The Apple Store on the Kings Road. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren opened up their first shop on the Kings Road in the 1970s catalysing the wider explosion of Punk in British culture. Vivienne Westwood’s shop The World’s End is still there. The artists haven The Pheasantry was celebrated by the photographer Robert Whitaker in the 1960s. “I was Lord Kitchener’s Valet” originally opened in Carnaby Street in 1966, a couple of years later another branch, “I was Lord Kitchener’s Thing” opened on the Kings Road. According to Peter Blake it was while walking past this shop that he and Paul McCartney came up with the idea for the Sergeant Pepper album cover. Reacting to the new modern world being sold in Post War Britain, it sold all sorts of vintage clothes and uniforms; the type of stuff many people’s grandparents had in their attic. It was simultaneously lauding the old “look” but also wryly laughing at it as being signifier of the old order that was gradually being violently exploded, like all the blitzed parts of London. But it is as though something is salvaged, like an old artwork pulled from the wreck of a derelict studio.
7. Monument to Obscurity (2011)
Lantern book with tapestry or digitally printed cover. (Edition of six).
The five facets depict significant images from the life and identity of Frances Darlingotn. The cover reproduces a painting by her mother, also an artist.
8. Toadstools (2013)
Oil on canvas.
9. Love Among the Ruins (2013)
Oil on canvas. The image derives from a photograph of a derelict sculptor’s studio on Manresa Road, taken after the war and before the studio was demolished in the 1950s. This was Trafalgar Studios, just next to Wentworth Studios where Frances worked for at least five years. It is likely to have been the studio of Frank Dobson but my research has proved that some of the works are by other artists; it was once my theory that Frances might also have stored work with a friend when she evacuated London in 1939.
10. Augustus John Leaves the Pheasantry (2012).
Edition of 28 unique screenprints.
The aesthetic derives from the playbills and pantomime posters of the early twentieth century, from the revival of folk art and the Arts & Crafts movement, as well as the later design work of Hapshash in the 1960s and the DIY anarchic ethic of Punk. In this work Augustus John is my thief, leaving the Pheasantry with a bag of pheasants, symbolising my own actions as an artist, in stealing the images of the Kings Road from the internet. The Pheasantry was once where pheasants were bred for the royal kitchens; in the 1960s it was a renowned haven for artists, poets, writers and musicians.
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