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Yvonne Mabs Francis



On Seeing Diego Valasquez

I was born in Oxford in 1945 and still live near Oxford to this day, only leaving Oxfordshire for Art College at Brighton and the Slade, UCL in the sixties. After College I created and ran a clothes business called Mabs. After eleven years and the birth of my son I returned to painting full time.

I could not, when I returned to painting continue the minimalist abstract canvases I did as a student. I was at that time very much in the 'main stream' which looked around at themes to influence one and hopefully to develop. An American movement, Photo Realism, influenced me. I may not have worked in the Conceptual way they approached their work but it did lead me to work from photos and consequently away from abstraction to realism.

Although I used photos for heightened reality I always worked imaginatively and I often combined them with flat surfaces copied from fabrics used in my former clothes business. However around 1998 I decided I wished for more content in my work and so I began a series of paintings dealing with a nervous breakdown I had as a young girl after the death of my father. It was this series I seriously exhibited, first with ITHACA, an Oxford charity and later in London, at the Raw Arts Festival, the Mexico Gallery and with Artesian in Edinburgh.

Since my mental health series my work has taken a different turn. I now work entirely from my own imagination with little or no reference to photos or any other images or objects. I no longer paint to tell stories or put over messages. It has made me feel a great sense of freedom, not having to look for rhyme or reason but simply wishing to create images which move people and hopefully 'wow' them. I would like to restore images in painting which for many decades have been lost. Films have stolen the great images created by the Surrealist and Symbolists, and are having a Renaissance with them. Added to this I simply love paint and canvas and everything low tech, so intimate with the human mind. This is of course all in direct opposition to the training I received and the Conceptual Art training now exercised in Art Schools today but defiantly on the side of Outsider Artists in which they so beautifully excel.

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