Frances Willoughby

My residency at Hawkwood offered me something I never feel I have enough of, time and space. This opportunity has been a reminder to focus on reflecting and making rather than being distracted by all the other things I ‘should’ be doing. This period has helped me remember what guides my creativity: a curiosity in materials and narratives.

I chose to use this time to explore collage through found images. I have always been drawn to found photographs as I find they inspire curiosity and provoke unanswerable questions. For me, these strangers represent faded memories, an anonymous snapshot into another reality. After spending several years carefully cataloguing my own family photographs, I became more interested in collecting those I have no link to. Undefined and malleable their past unknown, they enable new narratives to be woven. These images have become an inexplicit memorial, conveying a sense of fragmentation and loss.

I began by sifting through a box of found photographs which I had collected over the past few years. My aim with this strand of work was to explore how the subjects of these images could be manipulated/removed/concealed. I used a variety of techniques to investigate this line of thought, stitching over the subjects, binding them with thread and abstracting them from their surroundings. This resulted in several test pieces which will be included in a solo exhibition at the TOD Gallery titled ‘Lost and Found’.

Frances Willoughby is a multidisciplinary artist based in Bristol who has exhibited both nationally and internationally, including the Mall Galleries and the Royal West of England Academy. In 2019 she completed an artist residency at the Helmut Gallery in Leipzig, Germany.

Willoughby’s practice includes sculpture, installation, and collage, subverting the traditional and manipulating reality. Her work is figurative and aims to distort our preconceptions of the familiar through the manipulation of nostalgic objects and traditional feminine craft.

Full credit to Frances Willoughby, with thanks to the DCMS & Arts Council England for their funding.


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