A story of how a childhood memory became Real. The main character, Corduroy Dog, is made in virtual 3D from the memory of a precious childhood artefact, and becomes the main character in the re-telling of a favourite bedtime story.
Mock-umentary (duration 21m13s), digital film and digital/AR memory object (Corduroy Dog). Directed, filmed, and edited by Kelise Franclemont. Reading from “A Velveteen Rabbit” (1922) by Margery Williams.
Here is the story of how a memory and a seminal artefact from my childhood became Real.
Mock-umentary (duration approx. 20 minutes), digital film and digital/AR memory object (Corduroy Dog). Directed and edited by Kelise Franclemont. Reading from “A Velveteen Rabbit” (1922) by Margery Williams.
A vital component of my art practice is finding ways to share my passion with others (outside of exhibiting my artwork or teaching, of course!) So when the opportunity to join Tate as a Volunteer Visitor Host came up, I said “yes!” immediately. I have always loved Tate since my first visit to Tate Modern in 2004 where I experienced Olafur Eliasson’s “Weather Project”, one of those life-changing artworks I’ll never forget.
Tate’s real “superpower”, though, is not just in this one artwork; their true strength lies in the impactful way of taking the viewer on a journey – it’s their ability to tell a story through the experience of art that I find compelling – and I wanted to be a part of that story. Also, my role as a Visitor Host is a great way to share my passion for art with other people whom I might not meet otherwise. It’s a real pleasure to help others enjoy Tate’s collection in variety of ways – it might be a chance conversation about a particular artwork, providing information about activities that day, or just guiding them through the 500 years of British Art.
Which brings me to “Thrysis” (James Havard Thomas, 1912, bronze), prominently displayed just inside the Millbank entrance. Thyrsis hasn’t always been a favourite; but I noticed it more and more each time a group of school children came through the door; of the four works in this foyer, the kids seem to notice Thyrsis first, pointing and giggling, while adults rarely notice him at all.
Who is this naked flute player, I asked myself. A few minutes and an iPhone led me to the story of Thyrsis depicted here, a bold shepherd boy who challenged a god/musical genius, Corydon, to a singing contest – and lost. Perhaps, as is often a god’s way, Thyrsis lost his life for his audacity. Or at the very least, his dignity, which was hardly fair, considering Corydon’s poetic prowess.
Another reference more contemporary to Thomas’s time was a poem with which the artist surely was familiar, by Mathew Arnold (1865) about lost youth – in which Arnold writes that it was Time that conquers Thyrsis, not Corydon. Standing next to the sculpture now, I find it beautifully ironic that all the kids notice this bold young man (frozen in the moment of dauntless hope that he might win a contest against someone far more experienced and accomplished than he, a god), while adults pass Thyrsis right on by and don’t offer a second glance.
I’ve heard it said, “youth is wasted on the young”, yet the way our young visitors engage with this artwork may suggest otherwise…
as seen in 10th anniversary Passion for Freedom Festival 2018, Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, London. From 1-12 October 2018.
A mysterious black cube-shaped poet-object slowly extrudes a long strip of paper that gathers in a growing pile. The text contains poems, one-line reports, and other thoughts by Mosab Abu Toha, a poet in Gaza. Every now and then, another few lines of text come out as Abu Toha shares his poetry and prose with UK viewers real-time via the Internet, even while remaining entrapped in Gaza City, presuming of course, electricity supply is available to his neighbourhood.
Mosab Abu Toha is an author, English teacher, and founder/director of the Library and Bookshop for Gaza, a project which gained international support through a humble crowd-funding appeal, resulting in a growing library of English, Arabic, and other volumes made available to the Gazan public. Along with the hundreds of books and periodicals, Abu Toha and his small staff offer a range of English classes, creative writing and literature clubs, and other activities.
Kelise Franclemont is a visual storyteller offering objects or experiences about remembering and identity, often considering the immutable line between Other and Self. In the making, she will often appropriate materials, objects, or other more ephemeral cultural artefacts such as ritual, using documentary tactics to remake these artefacts into a new narrative, or into a newly-contrived situation based on some truth, allowing the viewer to discover truths of his or her own.
About Passion for Freedom Festival 2018 – 10th anniversary festival, exhibition, and awards event “…dedicated to shared values of free expression, and the power of art to inspire, awaken and shake the world”. From 1st – 12th October 2018.Click to view/download more info:
About Library for Gaza – Since 2017, offering “…a safe space for people to meet and exchange ideas and experiences [with] books lending, reading section, study halls, meeting room, children’s activities, along with seminars and organised lectures delivered by international guests…”
as seen in ‘Green Matters’ – a contemporary postcard art show, at Frogmill Papermill, Apsley 4-16 March 2018
“degas dreaming of women in the bath” (2018, ink, wax crayon, and Prismacolor pencil on tracing vellum and cartridge paper) is an “infinite drawing” of sorts that can be opened and folded in a variety of ways to get a new and surprising image with each arrangement of the pages. The drawing, on a single sheet of paper is double-sided and can be viewed beneath a semi-transparent paper, and/or folded to present a new perspective sized from A6 up to A3.
A response to the idea of the female nude frequently being the subject of the male gaze, here I’m reclaiming and expressing my own sensuality yet still leaving the way open for the viewer to choose his or her own “gaze” for themselves.
More links and info
Exhibition details: “Green Matters” – a contemporary postcard art show is on at Frogmore Papermill, Peter Ingram Gallery, Fourdrinier Way, Apsley, HP3 9RY from 4th through 16th March 2018. Free entrance; step-free access.
In a year-long experiment, #365LoveNotesToSelf is a project about finding love by giving oneself the gifts of time and looking deeply, one day at a time. #365LoveNotesToSelf is also part of the “Selfie” exhibition on at Candid Arts Trust, London from 23 February to 4th March 2018.
I am here and now
What started as a last-ditch effort to make myself feel better from encroaching depression, I kept at it for a year and in time, developed a pattern of self-love, perseverance, and mindfulness that continues today. I learned how to give myself a break and be flexible (some days it’s just not possible to stick to the plan so learned to make a new one!) I discovered I do have the determination and stamina for a long project (when in the past, I would often run out of steam half-way through). And even though I had a few days here and there with a low mood, it is with joy and pride when I say I can’t remember the last time I felt depression actually take hold.
It’s been a year and I feel like I’m just at the beginning. Stay tuned!
The following text is a journal from two sessions as a sketch artist observing the rehearsal of the London Shakespeare Workout programme directed by Dr. Bruce Wall, where I aim to capture some of the live performers as they practice their craft in a most unexpected venue in London.
If you’ve read this one already, scroll down a bit or click 19 January 2018to jump down the page.
15 December 2017
I arrived to the gate with my pens and sketchbook… waiting to be registered, checked off the list, given a visitor’s pass (to be worn at all times). Anticipating the day and a little bit nervous (I shouldn’t have read those articles the night before; someone died here, not too long ago).
Guided through a maze of corners, past the glittering Christmas tree, narrowly brushing by the incongruous painting which wouldn’t be out of place above a matching sofa …more corridors and locked doors… to room C3, splashed on all walls with the kind of colourful signs reminiscent of primary school, letters 25-cm high cut from cheery flowered paper, spelling out “food poisoning”, “Campylobacter”, “Clostridium perfringens”… A few empty paper cups are accompanied by bits of rubbish, untidy stacks of paper strewn about, mismatched chairs abide patiently in an haphazard circle. It’s pretty much a performance rehearsal space anywhere…
The musicians set up and began to practice, working out some of the more difficult cues. I found a table to lay out my pens, my sketchbook, all of us warming up our instruments…and waiting for
…the actors to arrive.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘Wayne’, study from London Shakespeare Workout, 15 December 2017, at HMP Pentonville, London.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘Vlad’, study from London Shakespeare Workout, 15 December 2017, at HMP Pentonville, London.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘Jacob’, study from London Shakespeare Workout, 15 December 2017, at HMP Pentonville, London.
Four energies burst in all smiles and a handshake, Wayne shining confidence in a dancer’s step; Vlad his spirit gently glowing with firm purpose; Edwin, solemn, kind, a professor, a mentor, someone’s dad perhaps, in another life… Jacob with his whole soul in his eyes, not sad exactly, but something’s there, just behind the dignity and resolve.
Welcome to Pentonville.
After polite introductions all around, the actors begin to rehearse their lines of Shakespeare, drinking in stage direction from Dr. Bruce* like eager blooms sipping the rain after a day of too many fiercely rooted under the burning sun…
I tried at first to move my pen in time with the actors and saw many things too important to miss in a downward glance… my pen just stopped and started; it’s impossible to grasp a whole form so I am concerned only with the fleeting gesture of lines, a posture, and I focus on the between-moments
…self to character to self again.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘Edwin’, study from London Shakespeare Workout, 15 December 2017, at HMP Pentonville, London.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘Jude’, study from London Shakespeare Workout, 15 December 2017, at HMP Pentonville, London.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘Peace is what we need!’, study from London Shakespeare Workout, 15 December 2017, at HMP Pentonville, London.
Three more actors arrive, two whose names I can’t quite hear over the musicians testing the newest phrase, the first tall and well-met with the easy smile full of welcome, the second whose spirit, unlike the others, is a carefully guarded mask.
Still I’m not convinced by the tough-guy-i-don’t-care exterior, who pretends to be here for a change of pace – I can feel the gusto with which he gathers his why-not in a fist to shout in chorus “I’m free!” …and Daniel, a spark about to ignite… and I saw it happen when he became an old man, palsied and stumbling, unable to speak…around him courage swelled and defied all weakness, to help him raise his hand, grasping an imaginary torch that we all could see. And he is a hero.
I am surprised when the guys crowded around my table at the end, to check out my drawings, hoping to see themselves maybe… and I wish that I’d been able to capture more between my eyes, fugitive moments, and my pen, to portray each of the men before me: Wayne, Vlad, Edwin, Jacob, “all smiles”, the one I don’t know quite yet, and Daniel.
Each of them proud, confident, strong… powerful and vulnerable and brave…warm, open, funny, creative… and beautiful.
Daniel, shyly bold, asked me to draw him… not of vanity I felt, but of a desire to be viewed under a different light… I am humbled by his confidence in me, and I don’t know what to say, except that I’ll try. I’ll do my best.
On the tube journey home, I was afraid that my memory would fail me, even as I hurriedly corrected lines, filled in spaces, and scribbled notes…
Kelise Franclemont, ‘Vlad rises up and leads the chorus – ‘Prepare!’ ‘, study from London Shakespeare Workout, 15 December 2017, at HMP Pentonville, London.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘Edwin’, study from London Shakespeare Workout, 15 December 2017, at HMP Pentonville, London.
My thoughts race to a pause…
These men…it’s not pity I feel for them….I don’t know what they’ve done to be locked up…it’s not my business, and I find I’m not even curious…
My job here today was not to know such things anyway, but to look and to really see.
Thanks to these seven inmates, actors, people for showing me the place you happen to be in now does not have to define you, your present, nor even your future.
Who do you want to be, you can be; now that is the question.
19 January 2018
There are no musicians today to accompany the scenes; it’s just myself and Bruce from the outside on the return to Pentonville. I’ve also recovered somewhat from my nerves; though I’m still not 100% used to the idea of being in a place with no way out for any length of time, at least I know what to expect here: register, visitor’s pass (to worn at all times), narrow corridors and plenty of corners, no Christmas tree this time, and more locked unlocked locked again gates.
Bruce and I both warm up, he with his script, I with my sketches, as we wait for the men to suddenly pour in all at once to C3, the same room as before.
Like my last visit, I am greeted warmly by familiar and friendly faces, with a few new ones, and am glad I had, in the weeks previous, attempted to sketch outline portraits from memory; all the guys seemed pleased to have been remembered even imperfectly (although there was some comedic debate as to whether or not I had gone too far with the lace collars and “men in tights” costume ideas borrowed from the 16th century).
Portrait of James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, Later 3rd Marquis and 1st Duke of Hamilton, Aged 17 1623 Daniel Mytens the Elder c.1590-c.1647 Presented by Colin Agnew and Charles Romer Williams 1919 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03474
Knowing the impossibility of describing anyone in hastily scribbled ink, always moving, pacing, gesticulating, I chose pencil instead to observe the actors sitting away from centre stage, still for moments at a time, heads bowed, awaiting cues, or mouthing their lines.
I couldn’t guess why the mood today was one of familiar ease (after all, most men had been an artist’s subject many times before), yet still detectable was a faint thrum of tension. Later, this undercurrent of nervous energy is explained when I am astonished to learn that the actors were due to perform their piece for an audience in a few days’ time – with only the equivalent of about a week of rehearsals over the same number of lines for which outside companies would possibly take months.
Back in my sketchbook, Daniel is my momentary subject, yet I can not quite get his likeness; he seems so youthful, hardly containing an excess of energy as he recites his lines, yet on my paper is inscribed a soul that has weathered more years than would be admitted by his actual age.
Abruptly, it’s a good thing that our time has just run out, as the portrait version of Daniel is rapidly approaching octogenarian. It’s as if my eyes and my pencil obdurately insist on seeing different things.
Giving up for now, I pack up my supplies and it’s back through umpteen gates (locked unlocked locked again), more corners and corridors, the visitor’s pass is returned, and I am glad to join the city air and waning sunshine again.
“Prayer for Rain“, an installation of copper, hologram, and sound is part of “Stations of Water” exhibition, with nine contemporary artists commissioned to create artworks, including sculpture, painting, installation, and film, in conjunction with justwater2017.org, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. From 25 September to 27 October 2017.
A single drop of water which seemingly emanates from the copper basin on the floor, travels up the pipes, to be released skywards one precious drop at a time.
It is through faith that this drop becomes the carrier of hope, as it gently floats upwards in glittering repose, taking with it prayers within all of us, whether we are creatures of land or sea.
Along with the simple act of faith in raising one’s gaze to the sky, actual “water prayers” from all over the world can be heard, beseeching whomever will listen, to revere this priceless life resource, seek rescue when we are overwhelmed, or beg relief from the peril when the rains won’t fall.
Click to view/download “Prayer for Rain” exhibition map/guide:
Click thumbnail to view/download “Stations of Water” e-flyer and exhibition guide [PDF]:
Exhibition details: “Stations of Water” opens 25 September through 27 October 2017 at St. Paul’s Cathedral and crypt, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, EC4M 8AD. Paid entrance; step-free access.
Please note the exhibition is included with paid entrance to St. Paul’s Cathedral during sight-seeing hours:
Monday to Saturday
8:30AM to 4:00PM (last entrance)
Special thanks are owed to voice-over artist Vicky Tessio (for sharing her lovely voice on the soundtrack by reciting two Catholic prayers in Spanish) and to author and director of Library for Gaza, Mosab Abu Toha (for sharing his poem “Dejected they stand…” which appears on the hologram prism).
For our second collaboration at Rondo Sztuki Gallery, borne out of shared interests in found objects, the archive, narrative, and collective or personal memories, we have decided to develop something that would focus on the past through an array of found objects that belonged to a man named ‘Henry’, supposed to be a common ancestor of both artists. The work is titled Motherland and through the seemingly disparate objects, when perceived together, they tell a story about finding your place in the world and following your dreams about a better life.
The Connect Project and its experimental form presented many challenges for us as artists. The combination of twostrangers was a risky operation, but in our case it brought about a most positive effect. During the cooperation, we found many common interests and ways of working, out of which many possible new artworks could be generated. Obviously, there were differences of opinion along the way, but through committed dialogue we worked out our differences, so that we could reach a successful compromise and a richly rewarding experience overall.
W ramach współpracy nad projektem do Ronda Sztuki postanowiliśmy rozwinąć coś, co wynikałoby z naszych wspólnych zainteresowań wokół przeszłych, narracyjnych, osobistych lub też zbiorowych wspomnień. Skupiliśmy się na grupie znalezionych przedmiotów, należących do człowieka imieniem „Henry”, który rzekomo miałby być wspólnym przodkiem obojga artystów. Pracę zatytułowaliśmy Motherland i jest to historia o poszukiwaniu swojego miejsca na świecie oraz podążaniu za marzeniami oraz lepszym życiem.
Projekt Connect i jego eksperymentalna forma stwarzały wiele wyzwań dla nas jako artystów. Połączenie w pary dwojga nieznajomych było ryzykownym zabiegiem, ale w naszym przypadku przyniosło to jak najbardziej pozytywny efekt. Podczas współpracy znaleźliśmy wiele wspólnych zainteresowań i sposobów pracy, z których można było wytworzyć wiele nowych dzieł sztuki. Oczywiście – pojawiały się różnice zdań, ale proces dialogu weryfikował rozbieżności, dzięki czemu mogliśmy osiągnąć kompromis.
When water is scarce, an ancient Bedouin tradition calls the faithful to beseech God for healing rains. This Islamic ritual is known as “Salat ul-Istisqa’a”, rising to heaven one drop at a time.
“Salat ul-Istisqa’a [Prayer for Rain]” is a response to the number of documentaries from 2013-2016 about the irreversible water crisis in Gaza. 2020 is rapidly approaching, the year when experts fear that the fresh water supply in the region’s underground aquifers will be damaged beyond repair. Even now, experts fear the worst has already happened as ordinary people who live, work, and raise families within view of the Mediterranean, are dying of thirst.
Gazan resident Awatef Al Afifi complains with evident frustration, “This water is unsuitable for [washing] hair, or for showering children or adults. Or washing your face.”
“This [water] is diseased,” she gestures, “we can’t drink it or use it for cooking.”
Throwing her hands up again, “It’s not safe,” she exclaims, “we can’t use it for anything, wa laa ishi [not anything].”
In another part of Gaza lives another family, 100 meters from the sea shore. Equally frustrated, Um Adham Bakr states matter-of-factly, “Saline water is harmful for the children; they become sick. The last time I stayed about 6 days in hospital with my eldest son. The doctors tell me that he had something more dangerous than meningitis; he was taken to the intensive care unit. Blisters had appeared on his body, blisters that were mainly caused by salt water. As you can see, the water is salty and their hair has been damaged. The boys have undergone several surgeries and rashes appear all over their bodies.” And resignedly,
“There’s nothing to do. We are tired of this.”
“Salat ul-Istisqa’a [Prayer for Rain]” is part of “Water Stations” an exhibition in which seven artists convene to honour World Water Day with sculpture, installation, film, and painting, at Emmanuel Church in West Hampstead from 19th through 31st March 2017.
It’s that time of year again and maybe it’s the weather… but I’m sure I’m not alone when I say, I am in a deep blue funk. So for Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to give myself a little gift: an envelope of time that contains a kind of “love note to me”, by which I will remind myself daily of what love looks like – by gazing in a mirror and drawing what I see.
For in order to really see, one must spend time really looking.
I’ve chosen to create self-portraits (instead of, say, making selfies on my iPhone) because in these creative sessions, I must take the time to really look in order to draw what’s looking back at me…and maybe, after 365 of these love notes in a row, it will become easier day-by-day to see through any of the dark days, with positivity, confidence, and joy.
In today’s image, I see quirky, bright, and fun-loving; now, I don’t know what other forms my selfie-portraits will take over the rest of the year, but in words of one of my heroes, RuPaul, here’s what I do know for sure:
“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
One late afternoon in November, Marcin and Kelise wandered into an old bookstore in Wrocław’s main town square. A book, dated 1856 on the ragged spine and gently reeking of cigar smoke, fell into Marcin’s hands: “Neueste Nachrichten aus Dem Reiche Gottes”, or as Google Translate suggests: “Latest News from the Kingdom of God” by Bierzigster Iargang. As we thumbed through the contents, a postage-stamp sized portrait of a woman fluttered from between the pages:
Intrigued and 40 złoty poorer, the book was ours.
Who was Bierzigster Iargang? (We called him “BJ” for short). The final pages of the book revealed some of his story:
BJ was born in Przemyśl (Marcin’s home town!), to a German/Polish family that owned several coal mines in the Silesian area. A religious and righteous man, yet troubled by the corruptions that accompany great wealth, BJ received a series of heavenly visions over the course of a year – which he called, “Neueste Nachrichten aus Dem Reiche Gottes (Latest news from the kingdom of God)”, wrote them all down and published in a book of the same title. This was directly followed by a spiritual calling to go to New York (where Kelise’s family originates) as a missionary, and he traveled to America around 1856-7, leaving his wife and six daughters behind until he could get settled and send for them to join him.
But in New York, he seems to have disappeared, presumed dead, shortly after he arrived and his family never heard from him again.
Our project aim is to unravel the mystery about the life and death Bierzigster (BJ) Iargang, and to discover the truth about what connects his story to Marcin and Kelise.
Currently we are working with an installation of found objects, text/prints, photos, and video which will present our research into BJ’s life as well as present the found connections between him, Marcin, and Kelise, (and particular, the artists want to unpick already discovered common ancestry between Marcin and Kelise).
June to Nov 2016: Kelise and Marcin communicate via email and regular post to become acquainted and discuss project ideas.
Nov 2016: Kelise visited Marcin in Wrocław, to work together and progress one or more project ideas
Dec 2016: Kelise and Marcin present work in Connect:Katowice in London at Hornsey Town Hall with Kelise to deliver talk/workshop around their project which both worked on together to develop (working ideas include: a book-making workshop, souvenir exchange, story-telling, etc.)
Dec 2016 to June 2017: Marcin and Kelise continue to work over email and regular post to develop the project
June 2017: final work(s) and/or documentation presented in Katowice, Poland
Kelise Franclemont, ‘Postcards from the Land of No People (wish you were here)’, 2015, postcard prints in a wooden rack. Image courtesy the artist.
Image courtesy Antonia Jackson.
Fragments and Traces: l’invitation au voyage
Kelise Franclemont and Antonia Jackson explore memory, travel, and passage of time through paintings, installation, and new media. Throughout each day, along with the exhibition of artworks, Antonia and Kelise will engage visitors in trading memories and creating new ones in an ongoing make-one/take-one souvenir postcard exchange.
Wandsworth Common Station, Platform 1 in London, UK. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The “Promised Land”, the land of milk and honey, the place where all good things will come to the chosen people and the true believers. In London, the “Promised Land” is not just for immigrants and dreamers, those who aspire to wealth and privilege that can be had in the capital, London is already here for the posh and the prosperous. This great golden city belongs to the movers and the shakers, the 1% who can afford to live in high-rise flats and work in their downtown shiny offices.
Not everyone is so lucky in the lottery of birth and not everybody finds the better life they seek when they get to “The Promised Land” they keep hearing about from their parents, friends, and politicians, tales that have been told since the Industrial Age…the sounds of building a high-rise contrasts starkly with the images in a different story of broken promises, dead-ends, and forgotten dreams.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘The Promised Land’, 2016, HD digital video on iPad with stereoscopic goggles and sound, duration 1:40 (looped) – EXCERPT
If the video does not auto-play, please click here.