Curve Gallery Barbican Artist Francis Upritchard Pruitt Igoe 2018

Francis Upritchard Sculptured Art – Wetwang Slack

Francis Upritchard is a contemporary artist from New Zealand born in 1976. Studied at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Shortly after graduating in 1997 moved to London. 

In 2001 Upritchard co set up an art space in Hackney, the Bart Wells Institute, that featured different artists, in a warehouse-type building. She also has featured works in the Saatchi Gallery in London. Won awards overseas and featured many solo exhibitions including Venice representing her home country New Zealand and also back in New Zealand where it all began.

The Wetwang Slack Exhibition ran at the Barbican Curve Gallery back in 2018

‘Wetwang Slack’ Iron Age site

The “Wetwang Slack” comes from an Iron Age archaeological site in Yorkshire, that found bones, burial sites and items from the Arras culture.

A brief look up online indicates previous themes that might cause one to hesitate and wonder if the artworks are going to be morbid, creepy or this new buzzword being used to describe gruesome topics “Challenging”. No disguises from us. We ask beforehand if anything is likely to be graphic gruesome, forensic, or morbid. Whilst we can not comment on other places where this artist features. This exhibition was safe in terms of it being free from the above themes.

The contemporary Art of Francis Upritchard

Francis Upritchard is a sculptor who made a name for herself in her early career by turning found objects into modified representations.  She then moved on to making contemporary Human Figures.

Francis Upritchard Wetlang Slack Exhibition was at the Barbican Curve Gallery 27th September 2018 – 6th January 2019

If you have not yet visited the Curve gallery you are in for a surprise. The C shape of the curve gallery sets out a staggered set of model human figures. Very colourful and diverse.Things that resemble, fossils or primitive bone shaped items, dinosaurs etc.

Curve Gallery Barbican Artist Francis Upritchard
Curve Gallery Barbican Artist Francis Upritchard

Upritchard Green Muppet Hand

One of the most memorable pieces in the exhibit was a sculpture of a green Muppet hand. The hand was displayed on a pedestal, and it had a quirky and playful quality that was characteristic of Upritchard’s work.

Curve Gallery Barbican France Upritchard Green Muppet Hand 2018
Curve Gallery Barbican France Upritchard Green Muppet Hand 2018

The green Muppet hand was just one of many eccentric pieces in the exhibition. Upritchard is known for her unconventional approach to sculpture and her use of found materials. She often incorporates elements of folk art, pop culture, and historical artefacts into her work. The result is a collection of sculptures that are both whimsical and thought-provoking.

Curve Gallery Barbican Artist Francis Upritchard Hand of Japan 2018
Curve Gallery Barbican Artist Francis Upritchard Hand of Japan 2018

Materials used to make a Francis Upritchard sculpture

A vast mix of materials on display, Sculptures made in polymer clay, over a wire frame, rubber, paints, pottery, and textile.

Upritchard’s artwork features items that look like they come from an archaeological find or a museum. Lots of brick a brack style pieces are reformed and brought back to use.

Balata A rare rubber from Brazil

Balata is a type of natural rubber that is harvested from the sap of the sapodilla tree (Manilkara bidentata) which is native to Central and South America, including Brazil. Balata is a particularly strong and durable type of rubber, and it has been used for a variety of purposes over the years, including in the production of golf balls, industrial belts, and machine parts.

In art, balata has been used by some sculptors as a medium because of its unique properties. Balata is very pliable and can be moulded and shaped with relative ease. It is also resistant to decay and can withstand extreme temperatures, making it a desirable material for outdoor sculptures.

The manufacturing process is managed by Darlindo Jose De Oliveira Pinto, who exclusively supplies to limited places and people. This Artist is one of them.

Francis Upritchard Sculptured Art - Wetwang Slack 1

Moving onto colourful small textile hats, that range geographically, and culturally as well as being from different periods of time perhaps.

Displays move onto hanging shelves of these little textile objects and the hats, diverse colours.

Francis Upritchard Sculptured Art - Wetwang Slack 2

Upritchard’s work is known for its diversity in mediums, including sculpture, ceramics, textiles, and more. She often combines these materials to create unique and intricate works that are highly detailed and evocative. However, without more information on the hats in question, it’s difficult to say more about them or their relationship to Upritchard’s broader artistic practice.

Francis Upritchard Sculptured Art - Wetwang Slack 3

A delicate glass cabinet of delicately shaded opaque ceramic or glass-looking pots.

Curve Gallery Barbican Artist Francis Upritchard delicate coloured glass/ ceramic style pots urns jars
Curve Gallery Barbican Artist Francis Upritchard delicate coloured glass/ ceramic style pots urns jars

On a side table of more traditional looking pottery with these small perforated holes, cut out faces.

Curve Gallery Barbican Artist Francis Upritchard vase/ pots /urns /jars with cut out face detail
Curve Gallery Barbican Artist Francis Upritchard vase/ pots /urns /jars with cut out face detail

At the back of the exhibition, the items are consisting of simple mono colour with primitive intentions. It almost seems like a journey of the evolution of sculpture, colour begins to appear and the complexity of shapes and materials evolve.

Saatchi Gallery Artist Profile

How to get to the Barbican Curve gallery

Don’t forget this great exhibition has ended

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