In the Spotlight
Artist Q&A - Frances Bloomfield
1. How did you get into art?
I came to art by way of protest. My father wanted me to have a “sensible” career so was not at all keen on my early interest in art. After many years of argument I managed to study art A level and then went onto art college…however not with his blessing! After finishing my degree I then worked in the creative industries as a graphic designer alongside trying to keep my own art practice going. When I had my family I taught graphics and visual studies for several years at Sir John Cass and Central St Martins. Since 2012 I have worked full time as an artist.
2. What is your chosen subject? and why?
The subject matter of my work has developed over a number of years and is drawn from many sources: industrial ruins, domestic interiors, nature, literature etc. There are recurrent themes throughout my work and always a suggestion of parallel realities – it might be a juxtaposition of what is considered ‘real’ and what is imagined or desired or the conflict between the façade and what is really occurring behind it. My intention is to provoke the viewer to reflect on these scenarios rather than prescribe a fixed meaning. It seems appropriate in an era where ‘truth’ is constantly being negotiated. There is no particular reason for what I do ..it is to do with the things that draw me in and it is out of these preoccupations that the work develops.
3. What materials do you use and why?
My work is 3 dimensional collage and will usually start with printed imagery developed from my photography. I take photos everywhere I go. I often incorporate pages from French maths, geometry and mechanics books…this to suggest a notion of order and rationality in contrast to the improbability of the image. I use all sorts of found objects as well.. either as inspiration or as actual items. I make all my boxes myself so I am involved in every bit of the process.
4. Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes a lot from architecture and film. I am also very inspired by particular authors most notably Italo Calvino and Paul Auster. This quotation from his book Man in the Dark is one I return to frequently:
“There’s no single reality...there are many realities. There’s no single world. There are many worlds, and they all run parallel to one another, worlds and anti-worlds, worlds and shadow-worlds, and each world is dreamed or imagined or written by someone in another world. Each world is the creation of a mind.”
5. What’s your studio like?
The studio is a challenge! I have a converted attic at the top of my house and it serves me pretty well as a studio. However because my process involves a lot of steps and quite a lot of equipment it is at times quite a mess. I have 4 surfaces I work on and I often find I am reduced to working in a space the size of an A4 piece of paper…clear up time!
6. Are there any other artists that inspire you?
For many years I have been very inspired by the work of Anselm Kiefer. It may not be obvious in my work and is not a direct inspiration but there is something in his view of the world, which resonates deeply with me. People always try to tell me I am inspired by Joseph Cornell..I do like his work but our only connection is that we use a box! Cornelia Parker, Susan Hiller, Mari Mahr and Russian Constructivist art are also inspirations to name but a few.
8. How do you know when a piece is finished and when it’s the right time to stop?
I try to leave pieces of work when I can’t really see them anymore. Then go back to them a week or so later with fresh eyes. In this time it will be in my head and usually I manage to resolve it. However I do have a tendency to overwork things and this is particularly difficult since my partner, Pete, died 2 years ago as he had a brilliant eye and complete honesty and would help me at this stage such a lot.
9. Are there any other art forms that you would like to try such as sculpture, ceramics, printmaking etc?
I recently revived an interest in screen-printing and did a weekend workshop I hope to do more soon.
10. What are you working on currently?
I am working on a number of pieces but have recently started a new series called Fragile Balance, which is quite different to most of my other work. They are about the relationship between the built/industrial environment and nature. How we have messed up that balance but also how nature ultimately takes it all back…I started thinking about this work after seeing the film Homo Sapiens which is a film of abandoned spaces completely devoid of people…I loved it!
11. Anything else you would like to add?
I am really looking forward to working with Emerge on this new venture.