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’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 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.