Clan of Rob
Photopolymer print on Fabriano Tiepolo 290gsm 2017 42 × 30cm
Francis Upritchard is a London-based contemporary artist. In 2009, she represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale.
Upritchard's early work often referenced museum displays, collections of artefacts, and ancient cultures. She often combined found objects with her own hand-made additions, such as sculpted heads made from modelling clay of dogs, monkeys and birds inserted into the necks of ceramic and glass vessels, or fastened onto pieces of sporting equipment like hockey sticks and cricket bats. Other works showed faux-antique delicate instruments in shabby velvet-lined boxes. She also became known for her sculptures that replicated shrunken heads, resting on display cabinets or mounted on small pedestals. Made of plaster and papier-mâché, the heads referenced mokomokai, tattooed shrunken heads made by New Zealand's indigenous Māori, but the features were those of Pākeha peoples.
In 2006/2007, Upritchard decided to start exploring the human figure in her work. In a 2012 newspaper profile she said: 'I didn't think there was so much good figurative work in contemporary sculpture. [...] I went to Munich and saw [the 15th-century sculptor] Erasmus Grasser's Morris Dancers. Upritchard's figures are made of polymer clay laid over wire armatures; their skin is painted in everything from neutral tones to brightly.
As part of House of Fairy Tales first portfolio, Fairy Tales, Folklore, Myths and Legends, Clan of Rob..