How I made me
Sculptural acts & ontological self-creation
Sarah Francis’ 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’ words, ‘how I made me’.
This page is an Archive of Francis' How I made me body of work
How I made me
How I made me is a body of work exploring Francis' self-identity. Working with sculpture, paint, installation and digital photography, Francis combines these elements to create staged landscapes, tableaus both live and photographed, that poke at the relationship between author (Francis) and viewer.
Francis’ practice weaves 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.
The following archive of How I made me represents Francis' 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 our own meaning and read the tone.
Francis’ 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 yellow, 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’s form in an act of mutual re-purposing.
Selected works: How I made me
Francis' work is devoted to memory, using photographic methods as a means to capture past occurrences and possible remembrances. The images Francis creates provoke questions about the very nature of memory, and about what an image can capture or depict – can it alter or misconceive what an actual memory is?
Francis creates images based on personal and biographical environments, both internal imagined landscapes and external real ones. She constructs the self (person) via reconstruction of place and setting in the images she makes, pulling at each detail in her memory before placing it within the frame, questioning her own perceptions as she works.
Zine: How I made me
How I made me represents Francis’ personal journey into her inner life, rendering it visible via photographic image and constructed settings, asking, how might we escape or embrace what we remember?
Each image is linked with a piece of text offering a darker context to the humour, prompting the viewer to consider and search the images for deeper meaning. Francis used the images to construct a How I made me Zine, from which the following images are taken.
I knew I should not get involved but I was far too headstrong to let it just happen around me. It was just me and him. My brother that is. He was quiet and strong and unresponsive. I was loud and smart and over-reactive.
That day I was told animals did not have souls. So I went to bury them down the garden and I wondered how I could help them now as they did not even see the world they died within. Why did they not have souls?
I could close my eyes. I would see it coming towards me. Louder, faster, loud, fast, fasterlouderfaster. Like a locomotive I always heard it coming and knew I was too small. Too small to reach the stop cord.
He would tell me places we would go. Disneyland. Would you like to go to Disneyland. Let's go to Disneyland. Every year I was told it would be this year. This year. This year. I told others it was this year.
So they started to grow. I felt I had gained something I did not want. And I would end up losing many other things. All my friend where boys. Would boys talk to me with these buoys.
The black and white channel always drew me into another place. Which I was glad was not here. Event without colour. Something about this place seemed right. And honest. And me.
Something told me to move. The loud bang rippled the air with a sound of panic.
Why I was allowed to keep my legs.
My bone was crumbled. And what was that? They questioned my amusement. Well that is a ball bearing from a shotgun cartridge. I had a cast put on my foot. But after I fractured my foot I called it dad.