New from Old
Fran White

Fran White

New from Old

Make Do and Mend was a pamphlet issued by the British Ministry of Information in the midst of WWII. It was intended to provide housewives with useful tips on how to be both frugal and stylish in times of harsh rationing. With its thrifty design ideas and advice on reusing old clothing, the pamphlet was an indispensable guide for households. Interestingly, an updated version of the book was released to coincide with the economic recession in 2009, offering similar frugal advice for 21st-century families.

The health of humanity and its possible demise remains a real and ever-present topic today, but for different reasons. We are no longer in the midst of war and rationing, but our human behaviour still poses a significant threat to the health of our planet. As such, I constantly challenge myself to seek sustainable solutions for my creative practice. If I am totally honest, this approach also suits my personality type, as I am very curious and continually on a journey of self-discovery, as many of you who read my blog regularly will I am sure by now have realised.

My artwork is a constant journey of seeking and discovering, of research and repurposing, and the visual language I have created for myself lies somewhere between figurative and abstraction, but this is an ever-evolving conversation!

During lockdown I had no choice but to reuse and repurpose, as purchasing new was quite difficult. Born out of this necessity, I have found myself re-engaging with old works and reacting to ‘displays’ I always have hanging up in my studio and which I constantly change, and I realised that many were still unfinished – they still had some travelling to do…

This activity also coincided with the Smallhythe artists weekly Zoom meetings, where the chosen theme was Repurposing – New from Old. The first piece I started to work on was In the Grove. I referenced an outline drawing I’d done from studies made in the Autumn of 2019, of my daughter reading in the lobby of The Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire. The final painting on canvas was made on top of an unfinished study from my Bodytalk series which I turned upside down. I was delighted to find ‘gifts’ appeared through the new painting from the old work underneath.

In the Grove
In the Grove

I found the whole process investigative and exciting, which is right up my street, but as usual, I struggled with knowing when to stop the search! However, on the 31st of January, I was challenged by fellow artist Julia Stubbs to join The Hundred Day Project, sharing our work daily on Instagram and Facebook, which took me down another avenue and enabled a natural transition from the Smallhythe project.

Subsequently, I have exhibited Green Grove, an acrylic painting on paper, at the Muchness Exhibition held at Smallhythe Studio hosted by Rowena McWilliams. I used a collage, made from several previous works, as a reference for this. Caitlin Lock filmed me while I was painting and this became a big part of the film she made about me and my work for the Pure Art360 event in April.

Green Grove
Green Grove

I always love a project and/or challenge and doing the 100-day project has surpassed all of my expectations for a positive outcome. I continue to feel intrigued and excited as I explore possible new ways to use old work. Recently I’ve also been updating my Artwork Archive profile with works done over the past 20 years. During this period, I realised I’ve already

repurposed several of these and still have more to work with, including many Ink sketches as well as many more studies, although sometimes I believe my studies are finished works in themselves.

Upon reflection, I have also realised In my view, which I painted in 2017 and also exhibited at the Muchness Exhibition is perfect exactly as it is!

In My View
In My View

This period of investigation of old works and displays has allowed me time to reflect, and I have come to realise playing in my studio is something I can contentedly do for hours on end. It brings me great pleasure and underpins my purpose right now.

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