How I made me: Sarah Francis
Sculptural acts & ontological self-creation
Sarah Francis is an artist working across sculpture, paint, installation and digital photography, often combining these elements to create staged landscapes, tableaus both live and photographed, that poke at the relationship between author (Francis) and viewer.
Francis’s practice is foremost about writing her own story; she’s engaged in an ontological, sculptural process of reveal; a staged, palpable, and generously shared study, and exploration, of self – of, in Francis’s words, ‘how I made me’.
Francis’s works play with scale; one moment focusing on body parts; later placing that body in epic industrial settings, rural landscapes and domestic sites. Tone and colour thematically bind the work, repeating hues in indoor shots (often warm, Kodak-ed yellowed, orange), evoking photography’s everyday point-and-shoot history. By contrast, icy whites, blues and tonal layers determine the set-like interiors in abandoned office blocks where broken chairs become playthings, re-loved as personal frames; in one shot, her body inserted into the chair form in an act of mutual re-purposing.
Francis’s practice is prolific, weaving through past habitats, relationships, loved companions – and grief; with one central drive, to survey, search for, locate the self. To come to understand the acts of masking and framing that have shaped her neurodiverse and queer identity – and all the questions of consent and access that impact upon it and drive the impulse to self-determine, self-author.
At the borders of Francis’s art is a navigation of self in a peopled landscaped. Paintings, sculptures, photographs fall off the page, stories continue; actors pause off-stage. Francis determines the frame, meticulously constructing, lighting, ‘blocking’, and casting each element chosen, to communicate both the arcane (what’s lost or missing) and the immediate and mundane. Grief sits alongside play. Love sits alongside objects, her childhood home, her beloved pet. The artist’s presence always determining our view but inviting us to take a our own meaning and read the tone.