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Ian Francis: Detail of Reliquary

Ian Francis: Detail of Reliquary

Making space and light: Ian Francis at Gill Gallery

Ian Francis modestly describes his current exhibition as a ‘making space in the studio’ sale, but this really doesn’t do justice to a display of paintings and stained glass which is guaranteed to delight and raise the spirit.  HOT reporter Cathy Simpson attended the preview at the weekend.

Ian has worked in a number of different styles and genres, but describes his latest work as taking him ‘back to abstraction which contains elements of figurative notation, hints at anatomical illustration and natural elements seen through a lively imagination.’  Most of the paintings are large, and the show also includes works made in stained glass. The bold abstract canvases, with their bright, clear colours, already suggest stained glass and it’s a very natural transition from one medium to the other.

Ian Francis: Beware of Men

The paintings are bright – Ian’s work, like so many others’, has been transformed by the wonderful natural light of St Leonards – and a pleasure to look at. Yet these are far from merely decorative pieces, and explore the heights and depths of experience in a distinctly individualistic way yet offering themselves to interpretation and reinterpretation. For example, consider a work like Beware of Men, which he describes thus:

The structure resembles a burial mound with the chamber forming a phallus, buried, perhaps a votive offering or sacrifice to the earth. There is something deeply sexual and voluptuous about the imagery.

We don’t know what goes on beneath. Beneath the surface, beneath the front that we put on. A prickly character beneath a veneer of charm and humour.

As with all images one’s view of them changes over time; in the past few months I have seen a good friend overcome cancer and today heard that a cousin has little time left, again cancer. At the moment I see cells mutating and changing, overcoming in secret beneath the skin, a sense of dread and the inevitable.

Yet the overall impression of the exhibition is totally life-affirming and joyful; perhaps a celebration of the dynamism and circularity of life, where decay and destruction are part of a cycle which includes rebirth and renewal.

This is a lovely, vibrant show which takes place against the backdrop of beautiful works of art, prints, cards and gifts which are the regular stock of Gill Gallery.

Ian is also offering stained glass workshops (having seen his own stained glass, this is very tempting!) which currently run every Saturday and alternate Wednesdays.

Gill Gallery, 55 Kings Road, St Leonards On Sea, TN37 6DY.
Tel: 01424 446882
For workshops, contact Ian direct on: 07535 253619.

The show runs from Saturday 6 July to Saturday 27 July. Opening hours 10.oo-4.oo Mon- Fri, 10.00-1.00 Weds.

Posted 10:58 Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 In: Visual Arts

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