Francis Upritchard

Selected works by Francis Upritchard

Francis Upritchard
Save Yourself


Mixed media

44 x 127 x 37 cm

Francis Upritchard’s Save Yourself plays on all the worst b-movie gags – unearthed beneath the gallery is an ‘ancient’ tomb devised by a Pharaoh with a very Ed Wood sense of humour. Her mummy-on-the-cheap (a mass of rags, with a knowing glass eye), unearthed with all his burial treasures – a bar of gold (pack of fags), and earthly treasures (kitschy teapots), comes replete with his own curse: vibrating spasmodically, he might actually be frightening if his electric cord wasn’t in plain view.

Francis Upritchard
The Misanthrope


Modelling material, foil, wire, acrylic paint, silk, wood, polyester padding, nylon, costume jewellery, found table

Figure:59 x 25 x 30 cm, table: 80 x 80 x 53 cm
Francis Upritchard


modelling material, fake fur, kid gloves, gold and silver rings, wood and glass cabinet

91 x 178 x 58 cm

Francis Upritchard’s Sloth looks like something gathering dust in the dark and creepy archives of the Natural History Museum. On closer inspection, it perhaps might have been hidden away for very good reason. Bejewelled, with all-too human hands, this seemingly long-dead relic is unlike anything in the known animal kingdom. Upritchard’s tampering with history again: she’s made a plausible missing link, a falsified curios, playing on horror-movie expectations of a collective consciousness.

Francis Upritchard
Travellers Collection


Mixed media

91 x 153 x 61 cm

Francis Upritchard is a doctor of contemporary voodoo. Borrowing her aesthetic from the kinds of weird and wonderful mementos treasured in archives like the Pitt River Museum and the Wellcome Collection, Upritchard forges a dark and twisted history of her own. Haunting and perverse, The Travellers Collection is a curio cabinet: it’s shelves house the untold magic of grotesque clay pots, ’shrunken’ animal heads (snarling real teeth!), bizarre instruments which seem to be carved (from possibly human!) bones.

A make-shift funerary chamber for her little mummy (with an all-seeing real glass eye), containing all the treasures he will need to accompany him to the afterlife. Upritchard’s is an art of falsifying information. Appropriating readymade artefacts, hexing the viewer’s imagination to wilfully reinterpret: a car boot sale cookie jar as a mysterious ancient urn, tacky tourist shop paraphernalia as prize trophies from a long lost empire. Upritchard’s a magpie Indiana Jones: inventing creepies and curses from stuff that probably exists in your attic.



Harry Pye: Being an artist in East London is considered to be very trendy these days, do you enjoy telling people you’re an artist?
Francis Upritchard: "No and if someone tells me that they’re an artist I immediately presume they make really shit art. (Laughs). Telling people that I am an artist doesn’t really explain anything about what I do with myself. I’ve always made stuff. Mum and Dad always had us making stuff instead of watching telly since we were kids. We were only allowed to watch three programmes a week. We chose The Dukes of Hazzard, The Dog Show and The Muppet Show. That’s what we chose... Good TV."
So, if you weren't watching telly what did you get up to?
"We did a lot of dressing up, made witches’ brew, bounced on trampolines, played with Lego and made things. It’s just what I do, it’s what comes naturally to me."
Can you still be an artist if you don’t actually make stuff?
"I don’t understand how people can remain interested in art if they don’t make their own stuff."
Let’s talk about some of the stuff you’ve made. I’m interested by that photo you showed me of a stuffed cat, what's the story behind that?
"My brother Robert got given $20 to dispose of the family cat. To take it to the Vet’s or whatever and he’s a hippie and he decided the cat didn’t like being at the Vet’s or travelling in cars and stuff. So, he got some really thinly sliced ham from out the fridge and gave it to the cat and when he was bending down, eating it... He hit him on the back of the head with a shovel."
He’s not that much of a hippie then?
"No, he decided it was best that cat wouldn’t know what hit it."



As the Beck's Futures 2003 exhibition opens, nominee Francis Upritchard talks to Polly Corrigan about taxidermy, colonialism and how to blow 20 grand
Francis Upritchard, a New Zealander who has lived in London for four years, is one of nine young artists shortlisted for this year's Beck's Futures art award. Her entry is a sculpture called Save Yourself, a one-eyed pygmy-sized Egyptian mummy that quivers and moans. One very sunny morning last week, when she was supposed to be helping to knock down a wall in the abandoned pub that she has just moved into, she spent a little time drinking tea and talking about her work.