I’m very happy to interview Alexandra Francis, an interdisciplinary artist and peace activist, who was born in Leeds, England, in October 1994.
She’s currently studying Fine Art at Leeds Beckett University and have exhibited as part of group, community, and solo exhibitions in Catalonia, and in England, in Bradford, London, and Leeds. As well as being an interdisciplinary artist working in painting, sculpture, installations, site-specific, drawing, ceramics and photography, Alexandra Francis is a peace activist, promoting world peace on social media on a regular basis.
Alexandra Francis Interview:
“To pursue my dreams and show that I could do what I wanted to do despite what other people believed.”
Alexandra Francis, please tell us a bit about yourself and your universe?
I am an upcoming interdisciplinary artist based in Leeds, England, with a passion for creating artwork that expresses my love for life, my love for experimentation, and my love for the use of colour in my work, and as part of my art practice.
There is always something new to create as an artist, a new idea to experiment with, a new material to work with, a new colour to paint with, a new technique to master, and I have found that the more I experiment with various materials, mediums, and techniques, and the more I create artwork that I believe pushes against my creative boundaries, the more my passion as an artist grows and increases.
Were you always interested in art growing up? How did you come to art?
When I was growing up, creating artwork, and studying art was something that I enjoyed doing, but was something that I did not consider for a future career. It is hard as a child to try to choose a career for yourself, and like many children I had wanted to be a doctor, a model, an actress, an author, a vet, a circus performer.
When I was in High School preparing to move on to study as part of the Sixth form, I had to choose three subjects to study, and eventually I narrowed them subjects down to Fashion, Art and Design and Business. Art and Design was the subject that I enjoyed the most out of the three subjects, and so I decided to continue my studies in Art and Design in College, followed by University. My love for art has increased the more that I have explored the subject, and the more I have learnt about art and the contemporary art world.
To me, creating artwork is a natural part of life, similarly to sleeping, breathing, and eating. If you are tired, make artwork. If you are sad, make artwork. If you have a spare hour in your waking life, or even five minutes, make artwork. Any time is a good time to make a piece of art. You know, if it is something that makes you happy, without hurting anyone or anything around you, then why would you not do it?
Where do you derive your influence? Do you have a favorite place or technique that helps you find inspiration?
I do not particularly receive my inspiration from any particular source. Just looking at a blank canvas can spark an image in my head of what a painting could look like, or an idea for an artwork.
If I ever feel lost with my work, or cannot find any inspiration, I try to test myself. I may walk into a shop and buy materials that I would not think about buying for an artwork; rope, drinking glasses, a dog’s bowl, a candle, a cardboard tube, a roll of sellotape, tin foil, or artificial flowers. If you start to play around with these materials, hold them, stick them together, paint them all different colours with acrylic or oil paint, eventually you may create a sculpture.
To some people, it might seem like a waste of materials, but as long as you’re making something out of the materials, and are enjoying the experimentation process, then you really haven’t got anything to lose. You never know, it might spark another idea for a future piece of work for yourself.
Do you have or have had a mentor or other special person to guide you?
I have had many mentors and people guide me throughout my career, though I am sure this is still the early days for my career. Friends and family offer wonderful advice and support, teachers and tutors offer great words of encouragement. The public do criticize and compliment my work and show interest in what I do as an artist. I once was told “art is just a hobby, so when are you going to get a real job?” Even that is something good that was said to me, because it has strengthened my love for art and artwork, and strengthened my love for working within the artist industry and as a contributing artist of the contemporary art world.
You’re an interdisciplinary artist but do you have a favorite medium?
I love working with all different types of mediums, including but not limited to, painting, sculpture, installation, photography, ceramics, site-specific and printmaking. Sometimes I will combine different mediums together, like painting with sculpture, or sculpture with ceramics. I can tell you the medium that I am currently working within, which right now is Sculpture, but I cannot tell you my preferred medium to work in, because the answer honestly is that I love to work within them all equally.
Your artworks seem beyond reality but is there any real-life situation that inspired you?
Life inspires me. I want to make a difference in my own way for this world. To wake up every morning to hear that someone has been shot, or a country is threatening attack, or someone has said something to annoy someone else, and innocent people are having to suffer because of the consequences – it makes you want to do something to change that. To stand up against the hatred, and to say no, this is not the way forward. I want to help to show that LOVE is the way forward, to show that working together in harmony and love, and to promote world peace can make a change if we all do it together.
I love people and I love this world. I love the trees, the sky, the animals, the differences between people and cultures. I love to help people and make people smile. I love to make people feel good about themselves, I love it. It is so nice to do and it costs you nothing at all! I have to admit that hearing that people are hurting other people makes me very angry and frustrated, and with that frustration I create new artwork. When I am displaying the new piece of artwork that I make to the public, – usually on social media, I sometimes accompany a short positive phrase or text with it, to make people feel good, and why shouldn’t I? This world is full of hatred, but we are slowly changing that, and if we work together, we can change the hatred into love and help heal ourselves and the world that we live in!
What’s the message behind your artistic work?
There are lots of messages behind my work, some that are not always clear. To be loving, to be kind, to be adventurous, to be unique, to be experimental, to promote world peace, to follow your own path and not the path of other people, to be you! Sometimes my work offers different messages to different people, and that is fine as well! I do like to believe that the message behind my artwork is to be unique and individual, and to follow your dreams.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently creating 3D paintings, out of painted bits of air dried clay!
What is your dream project?
You know, it’s more of a goal than an actual project. In ten years’ time from now, I would like to buy a building, though I’m not sure where yet, and stock the building with all sorts of art materials, ranging from different types of paper and paints, to clays, printmaking machines and fabrics.
I understand that education is very hard to get for students wanting to study art, because not everyone can afford to study and because to some people art is not considered as a serious career choice. If you study a course for something that you are interested in, you often end up in thousands of pounds’ worth of debt.
In an ideal world, I would offer an opportunity for budding young artists to come to work in this building for a period of time, free of charge, and to use the materials and space available to create artwork beyond their wildest dreams. At the end of the opportunity, the artists would ideally exhibit the artwork that they have created to the public, and if any of the work sells, then I would take a small percentage of the selling price of the work, – to help fund other opportunities and to pay for future materials. To offer people that opportunity to pursue their careers and their dreams, without having to be told that they should “do something better with their lives” or that “art is a waste of money and energy”.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I once had a teacher when I was studying in sixth form a few years ago, who told me that I would never succeed if I did not do as the teacher said. It was in the teacher’s opinion that if I did not study at a particular University or school in the future and accept and follow on with her advice, that I would not do well with my future and that I would go nowhere without the teacher’s help. You know, to be told that you would not succeed, from a teacher, with a subject that you loved, which in my case was art, was quite upsetting at the time and still makes me quite sad when I think about it.
However, without the teachers help, I was accepted into College and then University. I have been successful with my career in the past and in the present, and have proved to myself that I have been, and that I am capable of doing well for myself despite the words of other people. The best thing that has happened was to be told by a teacher that I would not do well with my career or future, because being told that, ultimately gave me the strength and motivation that I needed at the time, to pursue my dreams and show that I could do what I wanted to do despite what other people believed.