City Gallery
May 28th – October 16th

Spanning twenty years of work, this is the first major survey exhibition of New Zealand-born sculptor Francis Upritchard. A graduate of Christchurch’s Ilam School of Fine Arts, Upritchard moved to London in 1998, where she became one of our most successful overseas artists. She maintains a close relationship with New Zealand, returning and showing here regularly. Upritchard’s work has always been rife with allusions from other times, places and cultures. Her early works sported an exotic Egyptian-African ‘look’.

In 2003, she was shortlisted for the Beck’s Futures prize for an installation in which a small mummy lay on the gallery floor vibrating and moaning, surrounded by ceramic canopic jars. She followed up with faux-Maori artefacts, anthropomorphised sloths and monkeys, rocks and orreries, and rainbow-patterned sages and exotic dancers. Scale is key. When Upritchard represented New Zealand in the Venice Biennale in 2009, she arranged small figures on large tables of her own design. The tables implied spacious landscapes across which the figures interacted.

She explained: ‘I want to create a visionary landscape, which refers to the hallucinatory works of the medieval painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel, and simultaneously draws on the utopian rhetoric of post-sixties counterculture, high modernist futurism and the warped dreams of survivalists, millenarians, and social exiles.’

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Francis Upritchard, Blue and Green Scarf, 2012