Frances Willoughby is a British artist (b. Bristol, 1996), recently graduated with a First Class BA (hons) in Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth (AUB). Willoughby draws on themes such as the uncanny, the body and the home. Using a psychoanalytic framework Willoughby uses fears and desires to create installations, sculptures and collages using a mixture of textiles, found objects and images. She is interested in work that subverts the traditional and manipulates reality. Displacing the familiar she offers up a new context for the viewer to interpret and decipher. Willoughby ties these pieces together creating a new narrative, introducing contrasting materials to create a series of playful outcomes. For example, in The Failure of Pretence (2017), a sculptural piece featuring a wire mesh dome covered in cloth hands. The soft hands suggest childhood; it sits on the floor reminiscent of a children’s fort. It could signify a childish impulse to hide, the desire to remove oneself from everyday life. This work was on display at an exhibition entitled Unbound at the Espacio Gallery, London.
Willoughby has been influenced by a number of artists including American sculptor Rona Pondick (1952–). For example, in Pondick's piece entitled Little Barthers (1990–91) are a series of pink plastic blobs almost like sweets which lay discarded on the floor, each blob has a set of rubber teeth. Willoughby is interested in how Pondick has created organs which are whole; they are not severed but an organism in their own right, they are microcosms of the whole. This is echoed in Little Bathers although they are made up of only mouths they are similarly each an entity in their own right.
In a recent series of work, she has begun to explore how the fragmented body can create objects which are subversive as well as subjective. An example of this is Rupture (2017) which features a two bodies combined, their necks bracing them across the room. Stones filter down the bodies into a bowl beneath them. Behind the figures there is a net containing a knotted red worm like creature, hung high in the air. The installation is one of tension and anxiety. With each piece of work, she tries to convey a narrative using a series of symbols. These symbols are often nostalgic objects, which allows the viewer to reflect on their own history. There is an autobiographical element present in to her practice. Her work acknowledges the blurred and often conflicting nature of emotions. Drama, secrets, loss, she draws on personal events as they are raw and emotionally charged. Fear, anger, love get combined to create a complex anagram to be decoded.