Francis Martin – Women of the Wild Frontier

14th March 2020

On the 9th of March I visited Norwich Cathedral to take some long awaited photographs using the manual setting and also to try out my fisheye lens. While visiting there was an exhibition by artist Francis Martin which was titled, Women of the Wild Frontier. Unfortunately it wasn’t a photography exhibition but a drawing exhibition.

Below are some of the photographs from the exhibition.

Norwich Cathedral’s website cathedral.org.uk (accessed 14/03/20) shows more images of the exhibition. It wasn’t until I had seen these images on their website that I realised that from one end of the exhibition looking to the other side of the room the artworks were monochrome and then from the other side of the room the images were in colour when looking back. This can be seen in the two images below that shows these two views.

Martin’s exhibition Women of the Wild Frontier showed a series of artworks which were figure drawings of female saints as well as women that are ‘saint like.’

The works were mixed media, the darkness of charcoal and charcoal dust and the bold and vibrant colours of inks on watercolour paper. This is a distinct contrast which was made even stronger by the way in which the work was hung as I have discussed previously.

The charcoal works used atmospheric light and dark to its advantage which I would suggest has Chiaroscuro influences. This technique uses a strong contrast between light and dark and was a technique that Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and Rembrandt were known for.

The ink work colours and some of the compositions are taking on the theme of stained glass windows.The ink works I feel did not work as well technically. To me personally the artist had weaker ink drawing skills and the figures looked very naive and out of proportion. This was definitely a lack of technique as once the ink is laid, unlike charcoal you can not re-work it. My art skills actually are drawing skills in both charcoal and inks so I can see from an artist who works in these mediums where the problems had arose.

For me the strength in this exhibition actually lay in the exhibitions set up. The way that the work was left to hang with the bottom of the artworks free from constraint was an accidental extra where the paper had came away from the tape that held it down. However I think this was very visually strong and I would actually hang some of my work like this now that I have seen how it looks within a gallery setting.

The other strengths of the layout is how from one end of the room the works seen were the charcoal drawings and from the other the ink drawings. It was also very dynamic how the works were displayed on the rectangular prisms type boards which reminded me of prehistoric standing stones.

Therefore this exhibition helped me to think about different ways to layout works and how when visitors are looking at the work different perspectives work together.


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