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Atelier OPEN: Meet the Artist Victoria K Frances

by Victoria K Frances

Acrylic, collage and mixed media on wood panel.

Dimensions: 35.5 x 35.5 cm. 


Our Atelier OPEN exhibition continues at our contemporary art gallery on Brighton Beach for just two more weeks, and we've invited some our exhibiting artists to tell us a bit more about themselves and their work.

Victoria K Frances tells us about her anti-intellectual paintings...

I live in Brighton and feel very happily at home with the bohemian creativity of this place. Work-wise, I’ve taught English Literature for many years, and I've always been arty alongside this. Painting has been a serious pursuit for me in the last three years.

I have two paintings in the Atelier Open which are representative of my style at the moment. They're both very textural and come from the body. They are anti-intellectual - I paint looking to feel good as a whole human with the work. I consider the resonance of the work within the space it occupies. These two paintings were both built up over a number of months, building layers, and not knowing what direction they would take. The blue splash on the larger painting was a spontaneous outpouring and represented a breakthrough for me. And I'm really happy with the title (‘rhythm’) which I feel suggests the ongoing movement of the work. 

These two pieces are examples of a range of similar work. I have been working mainly on canvas with acrylic, collage and mixed media. I am starting to work on larger canvases which I find exciting and freeing, so that's the direction that I’m largely going in. However, I'm also creating many studies on smaller paper and in sketchbooks.

My main work is as a literature teacher and art is now a core part of my life. I find it a fantastic, expressive outlet, and therapeutic for me and hopefully for its audiences as well. I find my literature practice (reading, study and writing) works organically with my art practice. I did an MA in Creative Writing about 10 years ago and moved into writing poetry. The art has arisen from my poetry practice: the openness and the breaking open of categories is similar in both.

I have loads of influences, particularly the St. Ives school, including people such as Ben Nicholson. And I recently saw Barbara Hepworth's exhibition at the Towner in Eastbourne. I really enjoy her round, generous shapes. Also, I connect with Georgia O'Keeffe: the voluptuousness and freedom of her colour and line, plus the delicacy. I love Rothko, as I know many others do as well. I'm interested in colour-field painting and mid-20th century abstract expressionists, such as Helen Frankenthaler - the scale and fluidity and colour she produces. And contemporary artists such as Lindsey Harald Wong and Bill Jacklin. 

I haven’t attended formal art training. However, I've been interested in art since I was a teenager, particularly influenced by the artists and atmosphere of Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, and I've regularly visited galleries. In the last six years, I began attending courses with trained artists, particularly at Phoenix Art Centre in Brighton. I've worked especially with Denise Harrison, and in the last year I have engaged with mentoring with RA-trained Julian Vilarrubi which has been wonderfully galvanising for me.

Although I don't have loads of time for art currently, I keep it burning every week and get back to it whenever I can. I find it an energising part of my life and it complements my main work. I've created a studio in my home where I let go and create. I've also begun taking large sketchbooks with me into the world, into nature, and using those to develop ideas. I've been attending life drawing at Sussex County Arts Club for several years, and this has been a really interesting play space for me to figure out, or more accurately, feel my direction forward as an artist.

I've begun exhibiting work this year. I’ve exhibited at Sussex County Arts Club during Brighton’s Artists’ Open Houses festival and also here at the Atelier.

What would my desert island artwork be? I think this is a really interesting question because I think art really works within its setting, so I was thinking that one of my favourite paintings at the moment is Bill Jacklin's ‘Into the Night’, which is currently in the RA Summer Exhibition, but it's a painting of sea and sky which I would have around me already on an island. Even though his painting is far more depth-full and rich than its subject matter might imply, I think on a desert island I would want something peopled to keep me company, so I might choose something full of human life such as Brighton artist Patsy McArthur's running or dancing women to keep me in touch with humanity.

I am entering work to the Sussex Contemporary this autumn. Other than that, my work can be explored on my Instagram account.

Just two weeks left to catch the show. Visit soon....