Francis Upritchard, ‘A Beat’, 2013, ICA London

Known primarily for her figurative sculpture, Upritchard's work is keenly observant of human nature, and treads the line between realism and fantasy. Her figures, a group of misfits and travelling players, appear to taking part in a pageant or masquerade - their expressions melancholic and distant, seemingly questing for something beyond reach. Looking strikingly like hippies from the late 1960s and evocative of medieval jesters and holy fools, they are both archetypal and beautifully decorative.

The artist associates hippies with failure, that everything embraced and envisioned by the 1960s counterculture either ended unhappily or didn't materialise. Nonetheless, her apparent rejection of these ideals, as expressed in the disenchantment of her sculpted figures, is itself significant, for Upritchard's discomfort with the aspirations of the counterculture may also disguise a deeper longing for their achievement.

Signature: Signed and numbered

To accompany the ICA Off-Site exhibition A Journey Through London Subculture: 1980s to Now, New Zealand born, London based artist Francis Upritchard has generously created a new edition to support the ICA.

About Francis Upritchard

Francis Upritchard sculpts small figures that she combines with found objects such as fake Wedgwood vases, ceramic lamp bases, and vintage jewelry. Using beautiful custom-made tables crafted by her furniture-designer husband, Martino Gamper, Upritchard creates nostalgia-laden tabletop tableaux that explore asceticism and excess by dwarfing symbolic human characters and archetypes with cast-off detritus from everyday life. Her preoccupation—both philosophical and aesthetic—with reclamation and reuse has grown out of a lifestyle that embraces all forms of scavenging, from thrift shopping to garbage picking. By surrounding her vulnerable sculptures with unexpected objects like faux-Maori sculptures, field hockey sticks and other sporting equipment, funerary urns, shrunken monkey heads made from found fur, and old leather gloves, Upritchard creates alternative histories.

New Zealander, b. 1976, New Plymouth, New Zealand