Anna Francis’ practice explores the impact of arts and culture on the regeneration of the post-industrial world, through a series of events, interventions and site specific investigations.
The work examines private histories, public space and civic languages; using forms of intervention, mapping, performance, consultation and photography to investigate the impact of art and culture on the regeneration of cities. Much of Francis’ work requires a viewer or participant to ‘do something’ even if that something is simply looking in a different way.
In 2007 Francis initiated and curated ‘Indefinable City’ an exhibition at AirSpace Gallery, where she is a trustee and current studio artist. The exhibition focused on the changing nature of cities in the context of globalisation.
2008 was for Francis ‘The Year of Finding Spaces in the City for Art.’ This was a year long project, which started in January 2008, which saw the artist set up one investigation per month. The project examined the impact that art and cultural activity are having on our cities, and the problematic nature of finding adequate and appropriate research methodologies which can measure that impact. This has lead to the recent projects, ‘What This City Really Needs,’ a public consultation which involved finding out what the people of a city feel about their environment, and the ‘Official Tour Guide’ project, in which Francis became an ambassador for a city.
Ongoing participatory project ‘There is Beauty in the City’ is an online project, where participants apply for a magnet, which they can place anywhere in their respective cities that they find beauty – they then photograph the location and send it in to the project blog. This is resulting in a catalogue of images from around the world, forming a consensus on the beauty to be found in urban space.
Other projects see Francis becoming invented characters in order to test the boundaries of the city and its situations. The artist has variously become a dating agency director, a tour guide and a market researcher to investigate the city.
Francis also sets up situations which enable other artists to push the boundaries of their practice in various ways. This includes co-running a series of artists talks and discussion spaces under the title ‘Headtalk’ and organising Pecha Kucha: Stoke-on-Trent. Under this banner of professional development for artists Francis designed Interrogation: Walsall with Longhouse – A PAD residency which aimed to bring artists, the New Art Gallery Walsall and the public together to explore the public realm space around the gallery, test boundaries and start conversations around the role of art and culture in a post-industrial town.
Anna has taken part in a number of Longhouse and Multistory projects during the past couple of years. To find out more about these projects please click on the links below:
- Guest Editor – March 2010
- Interrogation: Walsall
- Action Research 2008/2009
- Longhouse Professional Artist Development programme