dot; in Thallophyte (1999;2000.) black dots like beads on a cord swirl around a
painterly red ground. Here we can see a dialogue between the gestural abstract and
microscopic imagery, the mystery of each creating a mutual metaphor; microscopism
as abstraction, abstraction as microscopism. Francis is strongly influenced by his
collection of images from a variety of scientific fields, including funghi, fauna,
insects, geology, astronomy and medicine. In 1997 he collaborated with the conceptual
artist Nicky Hirst on a project backed by the Public Art Development Trust, displaying
a number of cibachrome images in King's College Hospital, Dulwich.
"This is one of a recent set of paintings in which I have moved away from a portrait
format to a landscape one.
The networks of overlapping and intertwining forms allude to various modes of mapping,
both natural and man-made.
The images are both evolving and disintegrating, giving a sense of both structure
Over the past few years, Mark Francis has shifted the focus of his painting to microcosmic
and biological imagery. References to spores, cells, sperm, ovae and skin tissue
dominate his paintings. This picture belongs to a recent group of works which relate
more specifically to genetics and the processes of creation. The photographic origins
of the image are evident in the way blurring around the edges of the sperm motif
suggest objects moving in and out of focus. However, a counterbalance to the apparent
naturalism of the subject is in the controlled patterning across the entire canvas.
This inhibits the viewer from reading the image literally, as a view through a microscope.
Known for his soft-focus paintings of cellular clusters, Mark Francis has been associated
with the ‘Young British Art’ phenomenon while steadily forging his own highly original
path. Francis’ work has been collected by numerous public museums - including the
Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London - and has
been exhibited in major venues such as London’s Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy.
Marlborough Graphics is delighted to be publishing a series of six new colour gravure
etchings by the artist Mark Francis, these will be on show in the gallery together
with a selection of monoprints made earlier in the year.
Mark Francis has shown extensively, since first gaining recognition in the 1990's,
both internationally and in the U.K. Renowned for his beautiful abstract paintings
he has a considerable following for his works on paper, particularly his monoprints,
but this is his first series of gravure etchings. Made at Paupers Press, London they
demonstrate Mark Francis’s mastery of the technique, and are wonderful examples of
Mark Francis’s art takes in a diverse range of inspiration and sources from natural
history to medical images and astronomy. Recoil is a large pulsating work and reflects
his interest in the internal workings of the human body. Like spaghetti junctions
seen from a distance, these intertwining lines may also refer to the network of veins
in the human body seen under the close scrutiny of a microscope.
Mark Francis’ beautiful abstractions make precise allusions: the repeated shapes
and markings which cover the canvases are suggestive of biological forms. These new
paintings, all made in 1994, are monochromatic and carefully built up through thin
layers of white, grey and black paint. Bereft of signs of any personal touch, these
are polished - even slick - paintings. This quality, together with the paintings’
lack of colour and the blurring and diffusion in some of the works, lends them certain
affinities with photographs - it comes as no surprise to discover that their origins
lie in microbiological photography: medical pictures of bacteria, cells and chromosomes.
Looking at the paintings in this light, Francis could be located within a Romantic
tradition. His imagery of repeatedly biological matter, for example, invites comparison
with the Romanticist visions of such English artists as Adam Füss and Gary Fabian
Miller. Füss makes photographs of things such as the ripples formed by droplets in
water, while Miller’s camera-less photography involves passing light through the
leaves of plants to let them make their own remarkable colour images on photographic
paper. But while nature’s perfect symmetry might be part of the beauty of a picture
by Füss or Miller, Francis’ pictures are different. His black, cell-like forms are
either clustered or scattered across the canvases with no evident order and no clear
pattern emerging. Continuing this particular reading, it could be argued that his
monochrome paintings involve not only a chaotic, but an increasingly dark and ominous
vision of nature. The earlier paintings, in which sperm and ova appeared, seemed
to be musing on human origins. In contrast, thoughts of disease and viruses are triggered
by some of the latest paintings; particularly works such as Growth, whose crowded
mass of black cells can be seen as a kind of malignant cluster of lethal bacteria.
Yet this is too straightforward. The portrayal of his latest paintings as reflecting
a dystopian vision involves a particular figurative reduction of his pictures. The
desire to interpret, to give significant and portentous meaning to the paintings,
detracts from the ambiguous - even conflicting - engagements they set up with the
viewer. There is a buzzing animation to the latest paintings - moving from one picture
to another, the tempo of each canvas varies. While one teems with, literally, thousands
of black discs, another is more sparse. In these less cluttered paintings, each tiny
black spot leaves a distinctive but diffuse trail behind it, suggesting movement
and defining a path across the canvas. The illusion of movement is subtle: these
paintings pulse rather than dazzle. Most of the titles - Dispersal or Propel for
example - evoke ideas of motion, energy and life; qualities effected by the all-over
painting. One picture in particular, Liberation, has an almost aquatic feel, as its
magnified sperm-like forms swim across the surface. The paintings are well crafted
and their technical bravura comes to seem part of their allure and fascination. In
some works, the black discs appear to float on the canvas as if on a watery surface:
a spatial effect aided by the fact that they are painted in matt black on top of
glazed white and grey surfaces.
A subtle play of reflections is set up which gives an effect distinct from the photographs
that provided their source material: with photographic prints, the surface remains
either uniformly matt or glossy. In some paintings Francis has given a grey penumbra
to each of the black spots, based, presumably, upon the shadows in the original medical
photographs. The effect is to give the black spots form, creating the illusion that
they come forward in space, like so many tiny objects, rather than floating biological
matter. Some paintings appear to have been based on photographs of chromosomes. One
of these looks as if it has been smudged all over and the surface reduced to a lustreless
grey. This is a picture that feels as if it has been deliberately fogged, toned down,
as if to limit and subdue its allure. Francis’ paintings work best when they do not
so readily give themselves up to simple identification; when the elements of the
pictures avoid immediate recognition and there is a sense of a tension between abstraction
and figuration. This is especially the case in the paintings which make a form of
calligraphy from the wriggling motion of chromosomes and in the canvases where the
black discs are not so easily suggestive of cells or bacteria.
Antiques Tricks Of The Trade
Removing Porcelain Stains Some stains on porcelain can be removed by applying cotton
wool swabs soaked in a solution of 20-volume hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of
ammonia. The swabs should be left in position for an hour or two, but not allowed
to dry out. Place the object in a plastic bag to retain the moisture and check from
time to time to see if the swabs need re-soaking. This solution should not be applied
to pieces with a gilt or lustre decoration. Never be tempted to soak stained pieces
in household bleach, as this may give a good result initially but will eventually
lead to yellowing. Calgon, however, is safe for soaking appropriate pieces.
Is it Bakelite? The soapy smell test: rub the Bakelite with a damp finger - you should
be able to smell carbolic. The hot pin test: if a hot pin penetrates the material,
it isn't Bakelite. Colour and weight: Bakelite is normally black or brown and weighs
more than most plastics. Looking after Bakelite. Keep it out of daylight which causes
fading and, every now and again, give it a rub over with some silver or brass polish
and that'll keep it happy.
Barometers The trouble with barometers is, they're scientific instruments, there's
often something wrong with them,it's going to need some attention. Have it professionally
restored. Now here's some pointers on what to look for. Make sure you open up the
back of the barometer, you'll often find air bubbles in the mercury and the tube
may have broken. It can be fixed but it will cost extra. The pediment often gets
chipped or broken. To disguise it, this one's been shaved down. Watch for chips to
the veneer, replaced thermometers and damage to the silvering around the bezel, this
can be caused by over-cleaning or neglect. When you've acquired your barometer, don't
hang it over a radiator, the reasons are obvious.
Antique Baths Never buy a cast iron bath without its original feet. If you're having
a bath restored, get a specialist to coat the inside with urethane enamel. The finish
should be smooth and glossy. Make sure the fittings are complete. Finding spares
could give you a real headache. Watch out for unusual plumbing. For the period feel
original taps are best, but be sure they work. Buy a reconditioned pair or high quality
reproductions. Remember these baths can weigh as much as 14cwt when they're filled,
so make sure your bathroom can take it. And last of all - don't forget to try it
out for size.
Antique Decanters Remember the stopper must fit the decanter and it must also be
the original stopper. With a Georgian example, put your finger inside the neck of
the decanter. If you can feel the grip rings on the inside, it's a 20th-century copy.
Don't be fobbed off when somebody tells you that a cloudy or opaque decanter can
be washed out. It can't. It's a specialist job to clean them - they actually need
re-polishing. Most important of all, never buy a decanter that has cracks. Look very,
very carefully: small cracks can be very hard to find. A crack, no matter how small,
is the kiss of death. It will grow larger and eventually the decanter will just break.
And, if you've ever wondered whether a decanter will take a full bottle of wine,
don't worry. Wine always used to be sold by the pint and your decanter should hold
two full pints with room to breathe. Over time and use decanters become stained,
leaving a brown murky appearance to the glass. To wash away the tarnish is surprisingly
simple. You will need a jug, some denture cleaning solution, and a funnel. Dissolve
the denture cleaner in a jug of water as per instructions, making sure the water
is only warm. Using a funnel pour the solution into the decanter. The water will
bubble and fizz indicating that the cleaning process has begun. Leave for up to six
hours. Shake the decanter thoroughly but carefully, making sure you wash out any
remains of the denture solution. Next you'll need a bucket, some towels and a dry
warm place like an airing cupboard. Line the bucket with the towels, and place the
decanter in it upside down. This allows all the water to drain away. Leave in the
airing cupboard to dry out. Ensure the decanter is dry before replacing the stopper.
It's now ready for use.
Antique Dolls In the early 1900s, the Germans became major players in doll manufacturing.
One of the finest firms was Kämmer & Reinhardt. These were character dolls, based
on real children. When they were first issued in 1908, they were a flop because everyone
thought they looked too real. Today, they're very, very popular With a bisque face
doll, rub your teeth very gently on the face. It should feel rather gritty and sandy.
If it feels plastic and smooth, it's a fake. Never expose a waxed headed doll to
sunlight - the results can be disastrous Have a good sniff. Most of these dolls have
been stored in boxes in attics and they should smell a little bit musty. And finally,
if you want to buy an antique doll, go to a registered doll dealer and get a proper
Antique Drinking Glass The Georgian period produced the finest drinking Glasses.
Early 18th-century wine glasses are very heavy. The crystal was made with a high
proportion of lead oxide making the glass highly suitable for fine cut, engraved
decoration. The ingredients consisted of three parts silica, two parts red lead,
one part potash, a pinch of saltpetre, borax and arsenic. In 1745 the government
imposed a tax on glass makers. They were burning a huge amount of wood to produce
lead glass and the timber was much needed for ship building. The glass industry changed
their manufacturing processes to avoid the heavy taxes, producing much lighter styles
of glass, known as balustroids.
As the 18th century progressed, craftsmen combined
lightweight qualities with enough decoration to appeal to the tastes of wealthy buyers.
They invented the air twist stem. Get hold of them and feel them - the glass should
feel heavy, that's because of the lead content The feet should be larger than the
bowl And the glass should ring Most important, when you buy glasses, never buy damaged
or chipped - they must be perfect. When you buy a modern wine glass, the resale value
plummets the second you walk out of the shop door. With an antique glass, it holds
its value and, over time, it may even appreciate.
Antique Teddy Bears Who made the first one? It was either Steiff in Germany or Ideal
in the United States Between the wars, teddies became the cuddly figures we know
so well, with shorter muzzles and limbs. have a good look at it for genuine signs
of wear: look at the places where you would hold the bear and where it should be
worn; look in the leg joints to see how strong the original colour of the fur is.
Look at the bear's face - could anyone have faked it or has it got real character?
Another trick is the sniff test - not many people are going to be able to fake 50
years of rice pudding and orange juice down the tummy. You can identify the Steiff
bear by the small button in the left ear.
Antique Costume Jewellery Costume jewellery was at its height during the 1930s. Real
gems cost a fortune so it made good sense to turn to mass-produced brass and glass,
because that's all it really is. It's called "costume" jewellery because it's made
out of non-precious metals and glass stones. First, is it signed and is the signature
genuine? If you've any doubt, check with a reputable dealer. Second, look at the
way it's been put together - is the electroplating smooth and shiny? Whatever you
do, don't put your jewellery near dampness or water - it'll tarnish the metal and
discolour the stones. Don't let it anywhere near perfume, lacquer and soap.
Antique Longcase Clocks With long-case clocks you must always look out for signs
of a marriage. This is when the dial or movement which should belong to a clock has
been replaced with another. These are not marriages made in Heaven. The tell-tale
signs are excessive packing under the seat board... And when the hood goes back on,
your likely to see a clear gap between the face and the hood. A marriage makes a
clock almost worthless for investment and divorce is the only remedy. An interesting
thing with English clocks is they always have the maker's name and location on the
It is also important to look for special features like strike - silent, which
when turned to silent at night will turn off the chime. Features like this can add
value. Always ask for the hands to be turned through a full rotation to check the
movement. Look out for features like the strike - silent. Look for signs of a marriage.
Check the plinth has not been cut down as this could reduce the value. Bear in mind
that 8 day movements are more valuable than 30 hour ones... and that brass dials
are more highly prized than painted ones.
Cleaning Silver Candelsticks Candlesticks which are frequently used can build up
a thick body of wax. Never try to hack off the wax with a knife. There is a simple
solution. Remove the candle and put the candlestick in the freezer. Leave for half
an hour - no longer. Then take the candlestick out of the freezer. The wax will have
hardened considerably, making it easy to remove. Buff up with a polishing cloth if
Repairing a Tear Old Book Here's a quick way of repairing a tear in a favourite old
book. You'll need some heat reactive repair paper available from art shops, some
fine glass paper and a clean iron set at a cool temperature. Place a piece of cardboard
under the torn page, tear off a piece of repair paper and place over the tear to
cover it completely. Iron until the paper has bonded to the tear and the text is
visible underneath. Sand off the rough edges around the page and repeat the entire
process on the reverse side of the tear.
Replacing a Loose Leaf of an Old Book Here's a painless way of replacing a loose
page in a book. Set the kettle to boil. Take a couple of spoonfuls of plain flour.
Sieve on to a plate or bowl and mix with water from the kettle. Mix to a thick paste.
Fold a sheet of waste paper diagonally to make a straight edge. Put the loose page
on some newspaper and position the straight edge to leave 5mm of page showing. Dab
on your paste using a stiff brush. Place back into the book and press down using
the back of a teaspoon. Close the book and put a heavy weight on top. Leave for at
least two hours.
Cleaning Tarnished Silver Cutlery Here’s a simple and economical way to clean tarnished
silver cutlery. Put the kettle on to boil, get out some ordinary kitchen soda crystals
and line a washing up bowl with aluminium foil. Ensure each piece of cutlery touches
the foil. Add the soda crystals. Add boiling water. The mixture will begin to bubble
- don’t worry. Leave for at least half an hour. The mixture should turn white and
frothy. Rinse the silver under the cold water tap, and at this stage it can be finished
off with a silver foam polish, if desired. Once dried, the silver is ready to be
used. Buff it up with a silver polishing cloth for an extra shine.
Cleaning Antique Linen To Clean Antique linen you'll need a bowl, some pre-soaking
granules and cold water. Fill the bowl with water...sprinkle the granules... making
sure you mix thoroughly. Immerse both articles into the bowl...leave to soak overnight.
Rinse thoroughly in cold water. The coffee stain should have disappeared, but wine
can be more stubborn. If the fabric can handle a more aggressive clean then - you'll
need some washing powder which you add to a pan of hot water, immerse the article
and boil for 10 minutes.
Remove from the pan and rinse thoroughly making sure you
wash out all the detergent. Now place the antique fabric into a pillow slip - this
protects it and place in a washing machine for a short spin. Wipe clean your washing
line and hang the articles using clean plastic pegs. Leave to dry naturally...and
iron on a medium heat. If you want to store the antique fabrics away, wrap them in
linen and keep in a cool dry place.
Repair Cracked China To mend a crack in your antique plate, put your oven on a very
low heat. Place the cracked plate, cup or whatever in it to get warm, but not hot.
Meanwhile take some epoxy resin glue - the type that comes in two tubes. Squeeze
a worm of glue from each tube onto a flat surface... Mix together well, using a match
stick or small piece of wood. Dip the gluey stick into a pot of paint powder which
matches the colour of the china. This will ensure that when dry the glue won't appear
yellowy, but matches the colour of the china.
Mix into the glue - not too much or
the mixture will become too dry. Take the cracked item from the oven using oven gloves.
The crack will have opened slightly due to the heat. Immediately fill the crack with
the gluey mixture. Place masking tape across the crack to support the join. As the
china cools down, it will contract, pulling the glue into the crack. Leave overnight
to dry out. If any hardened glue remains chip it away using half a razor blade. Protect
your fingers by sticking masking tape over one edge. Your china is now solid, and
will not crack further.
Mending Broken PlatesTo mend a broken plate ensure the break is clean and dry. Take
some epoxy resin glue - it comes in two tubes. Squeeze a worm of glue from each tube
on to a flat surface. Mix together well, using a matchstick or small piece of wood.
Dip the gluey stick into a pot of white paint powder - available from any good art
shop. This will ensure that when dry, the glue will blend with the colour of the
china. Mix thoroughly until it is smooth. Apply to one edge of the break only. Join
the break together. Place masking tape at right angles to the break, pulling the
join together. Secure the plate. Leave for 24 hours for the glue to harden. Remove
the masking tape. To remove excess dried glue, take half a razor blade and chip it
away. Protect your fingers by covering half the blade in masking tape. The crockery
is now ready for use.
Repair Surface Chips To repair a surface chip first you will need milliput - a form
of modelling putty which you can buy from an Art shop, and some baby powder. Protect
your working surface with a sheet of paper. Milliput comes in two packs - take equal
quantities from each and roll the clay into a ball. Keep rolling until the two colours
have fused. You may need to apply powder to your fingers if they get sticky. Apply
to the chip and fill in. Make circular motions using a little powder to create a
Leave to cure for six hours. Next you will need sandpaper, make sure
it's a fine 00/F2 grade. Rub gently until the Milliputt is flush with the surface
taking care not to damage the existing glaze or decoration. Take a fine paintbrush,
acrylic paint to match, some glaze and a toothpick. Squeeze out the paints onto a
plate and add a teaspoon of glaze. Take a toothpick and add small amounts of paint
to the glaze until you have the desired colour. Apply a thin coat and leave to dry
for four hours. If you wish you can apply a clear coat of glaze to give you a glossy
Repair a broken cup handel To repair a broken cup handel you'll need some araldite
- a household adhesive which you can buy from a DIY shop and some Titanium dioxide
powder which you can find in an art shop or chemist. You will also need an old tile,
cotton buds and a toothpick. Squeeze out equal quantities from each of the tubes
of araldite onto a clean tile. Using the cocktail stick, mix the two together thoroughly.
Take a toothpick and add a few grains of titanium dioxide. Blend this in with the
araldite. Next you'll need some plasticine and some gummed paper tape.
cup on a tile and secure with plasticine. Using the cotton bud apply the araldite
to one side of the broken surface only. Stick the broken handle back in its original
position. Cut a narrow piece of gummed paper strip and immerse it in a cup of water.
Thread the strip through the handle -sticky side up - cross over the top and stick
to the side of the cup. The tape must come at least two thirds around the sides.
As the strip dries the handle is pushed firm against the cup. Dip a cotton bud into
some surgical spirit and clean up the area. It'll need 24 hours to dry and 3 days
to harden. After that, remove the gummed paper by dampening it with water.
How to camouflage scratches in Antique furniture You'll need some acrylic paint -
the colour burnt umber - a very fine paint brush, hard wax and some kitchen paper.
Squeeze a worm of acrylic paint, wet the paintbrush, take a small amount of paint,
mix it to a light consistency, paint into the scratch and wait for it to dry - about
15 minutes. Rub in the hard wax, take kitchen paper and buff over the scratch - a
smooth surface restored.
Sticky Drawers For an easy remedy all you need is some candle wax. After emptying
the drawer, pull it right out. Turn it over and clean the sides with a soft cloth.
Take the candle wax and rub along the sides of the drawer. The wax acts as a lubricant.
Ease the drawer back into the chest - make sure you don't overload it. It's as easy
as that - you now have smooth running drawers.
Heat and Water Stains To deal with stains, take a very mild steel wool, 0000 is the
sort to look out for. It should feel like soft cotton wool. You can buy this from
any good hardware store. Lubricate the mild steel wool with a soft wax polish and
rub on to the stain. Rub until the stain has disappeared or been greatly reduced
and buff with kitchen paper.
Cleaning Wood Take a roll of kitchen paper, tear off enough for a cloth-size bundle
and then moisten the paper with some warm water, not too much. Take an ordinary bar
of cosmetic soap and rub onto the paper. Carefully wipe the furniture checking each
time for dirt. Carry on until there's no dirt on the cloth. Dry the wood with a soft
rag or tea towel. Take some antique wax polish - make sure it's got no solvents or
oils in - and rub on. Leave for an hour, to let the wax work in to the wood. Buff
and admire until the next time.
Getting Rid of Woodworm Tell-tale signs of woodworm are crumb like deposits called
frass, near the holes. For smaller pieces of furniture there's a remedy. You'll need
a stick of hard wax, brown paper - an envelope will do - a bin liner and a soft cloth.
Take the furniture and place in the bin liner. Suck all the air out of the bag. Place
in a fridge-freezer to kill the worm and any larvae, leave for three days and then
take out of the freezer. To fill in the holes, take the stick of hard wax and rub.
Tear the envelope, or brown paper and push the wax in firmly and then finish off
with a soft cloth.