Barbara Franc Artist
London-based artist Barbara Franc thoughtfully constructs animal sculptures made of discarded materials: metal, textiles and everyday objects such as kitchen utensils or guitar strings and other materials.
Barbara Franc has always been fascinated by the sculptural forms of animals, they present a never-ending source of inspiration to her. Barbara attended Morley College of Art in the late 70s where she studied Life drawing under the artists Maggie Hambling and John Bellany, later learning sculptural techniques with Avril Vellacott, Richmond College and most influentially with Mary Orrom, a talented sculptor who became a very close friend.
Most of the techniques involved, with all the many various styles and uses of unusual media, including recycled and discarded materials, Barbara has researched, problem solved and developed herself. She is now a much sort-after tutor, passing on her ideas and guidance to others, Barbara Franc has taught textile sculpture workshops in Australia, France and the UK. She uses a wide variety of media from metals to textiles, the most important criteria being that they are, as far as possible, either 'found objects', discarded or recycled. This is not just for sound ecological reasons but also because she enjoys the challenge of transforming something with a past history - a wire armature, old fabrics, decorative tin - into something new and exciting. Barbara exhibits widely at Art Fairs in the UK and abroad. The British Crafts Council invited her for inclusion in their first ever Pavilion exhibition at the London Design Fair 2016. She has had several solo shows and her private collectors are from all over the Globe. Corporate commission works include: the prestigious Rosewood Hotel, London, Prudential Property Investment, Pizza Express flagship- stores, the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, Canada and the 'Denim' exhibition at Spielzeug Welt Museum, Basel, Switzerland.
Barbara uses steel wire, wire netting, clear plastic glass paints and recycled materials to create wonderfully original, three dimensional animals, with birds and hares particular favourites. Any material can be incorporated into her sculptures, from tin and typewriter keys to knitting needles and cutlery. Barbara cites nineteenth century animal engravings as a key influence, as well as the movement and skeletal structure of animals both domestic and wild.
Barbara explains; "I have always been fascinated by the shapes and sculptural forms of animals, they present a never-ending source of inspiration to me. I try to capture a feeling of their movement and presence in my sculpture. For this I use wire and other materials in a way that suggests drawing in three dimensions. This allows me greater freedom to add changes whenever I want during the construction to keep the feeling fluid and to reflect the diversity of movement and form.
I increasingly use recycled and discarded materials as I enjoy the challenge of transforming something with a past history into something new and exciting".
Titled Shaggy Dogs and other Fabric Creatures, one of her latest series repurposes a large collection of old and vintage textiles.
'As a sculptor, I continually enjoy playing with different media and exploring what they can do for me,' said Baraba Franc. 'I'll often get the gem of an idea for a new piece by just picking up a piece of discarded metal, for example, a jam jar lid might turn into a flower head or part of a cat! I might have scraps of lead sheet, which I'll start to 'stitch' together, and they start to transform into the idea of making a corset out of this soft, malleable metal.
Fascinated by the shapes and forms of animals, Barbara Franc uses them as inspiration for her pieces. Her sculptures use wire as the base, suggesting a three-dimensional drawing. She continues to cover the metal structure with recycled materials, giving them a second life.
'I enjoy working with different gauges of wire and wire netting as they respond very directly and immediately to my ideas, and it becomes like drawing in three dimensions,' Franc continued. 'I'll often work on the form first without a rigid armature supporting the wire, this gives me a greater freedom to change the posture of the sculpture and keep it feeling alive. When I've decided on how I want it to stand, I'll then thread in a stiffer wire to become the armature. I can emphasize certain lines with the use of resin and different gauges of wire, some pieces I leave in their metallic finish and others I color using enamel or clear plastic glass paints.
For the Shaggy Dogs series, the artist used her own pet as inspiration, stating he models for her frequently. The sculptures have been covered in her own daughter's old trousers, a friend's old curtains, and her grandmother's old tapestry among other textiles. The patchwork series also includes a hare and two rats.