Nottingham Contemporary announces Francis Upritchard. A Hand of Cards

Nottingham Contemporary presents Francis Upritchard. A Hand of Cards, an exhibition on view 21 July–30 September 2012.


Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery Caruso St John Architects

Originally from New Zealand and now living in London, Upritchard’s recent works are human figures presented on elaborately crafted bases that appear archaic, yet also seem to be devotees of contemporary alternative cults. There is a post-festival feeling to their sorry gatherings, emphasised by Upritchard’s use of acid-bright colours and her hand-woven textiles.

Upritchard has made over 20 new works for the Nottingham Contemporary exhibition, seven “soldier” figures; seemingly captured mid attack, the group is perhaps influenced by the many medieval myths of Nottingham. In the adjacent gallery, Upritchard has assembled a gathering of her melancholic hippies, or “holy fools.” In one sense these sculptures address the failures of the 1960s and 1970s counter-culture and its gaudy, individualistic “alternative” aftermath.

Her exhibition both draws upon and parodies crafts and the applied arts. For this exhibition she has worked with the renowned furniture designer Martino Gamper. Upritchard also works closely with contemporary writers.

Some of Uprichard’s earlier works have made their way into the Alfred Kubin galleries. It is as if these sculptures have left the imaginary spaces of Kubin’s drawings for the solid dimensions of our own world. Domestic, animal, and not-quite-human references abound in both artists’ works. At root both are visual artists with literary sensibilities, who make unsettling images relating to dreams, fantasies, and anxieties.

Francis Upritchard represented New Zealand at the 2009 Venice Biennale and has had solo exhibitions at Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati (2012) and Secession in Vienna (2010). In 2006 she was awarded The Walters Prize, New Zealand’s most prestigious award for contemporary art.

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