Mary Anne Francis is an artist, a practice-based researcher and art-writer.
Her works as an artist and writer have appeared in a wide-range of venues. She is currently working on issues of 'medium' in online culture and researching art's engagement with the Internet of Things.
Previous research has, among other things, addressed the question of artist’s writing and how it might differ from an art-historian’s or art-theorist’s, and Mary Anne has also done much work on questions of art's authorship. Running through all of her research is an interest in the specificity of art as a discourse.
She teaches within Fine Art: Critical Practice BA(Hons) at the university and leads the MRes in Arts and Cultural Research.
Richly resourced by four arts-based degrees, Dr Mary Anne Francis has significant reputations as an artist, practice-based researcher and art-writer; activities that constitute the ‘expanded field’ of contemporary art practice. As an artist, she has received high profile commissions – notably from London Underground (Platform for Art) and the Financial Services Authority. Her work ‘The Blooming Commons’ was the first Open Source art-work to be shown at Tate Britain, and the exhibition ‘Super Farmers’ Market’ that she recently co-curated involving 32 international artists, was reviewed in Time Out, The Independent and Third Text.
Mary Anne’s practice-based research has been recognised in a range of prestigious invitations: e.g. the keynote address to the inaugural ‘Artistic Research’ conference at Iceland Academy of the Arts, chairing and committee roles at the 'Art of Research' conferences, and many requests to run seminars with art and design research students across the UK.
Her work as an art-writer and theorist has been in demand since the early 1990s when she reviewed the emerging YBA scene for many magazines including Art Monthly. In 2010, she was invited to run an art-writing course at Tate Modern, ‘Never Lost For Words’, and recently, was invited to make a keynote address to ‘The Language of Arts and Music’ conference organized by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy.
Mary Anne read English at UCL before going to Central St Martin’s to take a degree in Fine Art & Critical Studies. During this time she also completed a MA in Culture, Communication and Society, at Goldsmiths’ College (department of Sociology). She was the first student to graduate with a practice-based PhD in Fine Art from Goldsmiths’; her 60,000 written thesis ‘the artist as a multifarious agent’ was accompanied by a solo exhibition at Beaconsfield, London.
Before joining the University of Brighton as Senior Lecturer on the Fine Art: Critical Practice BA (Hons), Mary Anne held posts at Brunel University, and Goldsmiths’ College – previously working for the editorial department at André Deutsch. Over the years she has also worked in many universities and art-schools as a Visiting Lecturer including The Slade, Central St Martin’s, London Metropolitan University, Winchester School of Art, Kingston University, and Norwich University College. Between 2004 and 2008, was Research Fellow in Critical Practice at Chelsea College of Art & Design, and between 2008 and 2011, Research Fellow in Writing + Art, also at Chelsea, University of the Arts, London.
Mary Anne’s extensive experience across art and writing, theory/philosophy and practice informs her ongoing work with undergraduate and postgraduate students at Brighton. In 2011, she was appointed Course Leader of the MRes in Arts and Cultural Research.
All Mary Anne’s research addresses aspects of art’s authorship. In particular, she has published on:
• Social Art Practices – when these designate collaborations between artists and non-artists. Work here includes:
- Writing, creative-practice and conference organization around the subject of ‘Open Source’ culture – e.g. ‘Open Source Fine Art’ and ‘The Blooming commons’
- Writing on ‘post-autonomous’ art-practices – see ‘Dirty work: art beyond autonomy’
- Writing on the question of who should judge social art practices: participants or art-critics – see ‘The dark side of art’s social turn’
- Various conference papers – see contribution to ‘Sensuous Knowledge’ (Norway)
• Digital culture
- Open Source Art, and the implications of Open Source as an infinite economy for the material ecology of cultural production - see ‘Open Source Fine Art’
Mary Anne’s current research in the digital realm is looking at the status of ‘medium’ in online culture, and especially, the Internet of Things as a new medium for artists.
– When this raises questions for how an artist’s writing is distinct from an art-historian’s, or art-theorist’s – see ‘Discussion paper from the working group on “Situational Fiction”’ and e.g. ‘In the Café Flaubert’
– When this can be seen as an extension of art-practice and a possible way of presenting creative-practice research – see ‘Here and there: an artist’s writing as aesthetic form’
• Creative practice in research
- This preoccupation informs Mary Anne’s work with art-writing and more broadly is key to her leadership of the MRes Arts and Cultural Research. It has been the subject of a number of conference papers – e.g. for ‘Artistic Research’ (Iceland), and ‘The Art of Research’ (Helsinki) as well as many guest lectures and workshops for PhD students in UK universities (e.g. Norwich UCA; UAL, Winchester, Kingston). Mary Anne has also undertaken consultancy work for UK universities seeking to develop their creative-practice research capacities.
• Art practice
For further documentation, please see: www.maryannefrancis.org
The published version of Mary Anne’s artwork / conference paper contribution to The Art of Research conference (2009)
Artwork taking the form of a publisher’s catalogue, featuring monographs on the radically diverse strands of artist M A Faust’s work.
An Open Source artwork for Tate Britain as part of Open Congress, October 2005.
Journal article presenting a philosophical discussion of theories of representation in the form of a fictional dialogue.
Exploring the previous government’s ‘Social Inclusion’ agenda in the context of the fine art PhD
Showing how the spaces where writing and speaking about art takes place might inform art-writing
Article addressing ‘post-autonomous’ art practices which entail artists’ collaboration with other kinds of professional and art-work in the world.
2016 ‘Indifferent Forms: The Cultural Politics of Medium Online, Or The Formal Remit of Diversity and Difference’ Third Text, August 2016
2014 ‘The Dark Side of Art’s “Social Turn”; towards a discourse on the impact of art’s use of social forms upon the social’, Journal of Cultural Research
2011 ‘“Widening Participation” in the Fine Art PhD: expanding research and practice’, Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education Vol 9.2
2011 ‘Here and There: An Artist’s Writing as Aesthetic Form’, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice Vol 3.2
2009 ‘Discussion paper from the working group on “Situational Fiction”’, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol 2.1 – looking at the role of site-specific fiction in an artist’s writing
2009 ‘The Banner Project’ review re-printed in Harmonic Tremors ed. Sarah Rainbird
2008 Guest editor for Journal of Visual Arts Practice 7.3 – on ‘Critique’: I commissioned and edited articles by Yve Lomax, Suhail Malik, Malcolm Quinn, John Roberts, Michael Schwab and Marina Vishmidt
2008 ‘Theory of Critique in Practice… Practice as Critique’, Journal of Visual Arts Practice, 7.3 – article on an AHRB-funded art project
2008 ‘In the Café Flaubert’, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice Vol 1.2 – a fictional dialogue as philosophical discussion about theories of representationalism
2006 ‘Dirty Work: Art Beyond Autonomy’, 6,000 word commissioned paper for Journal of Visual Arts Practice Vol 6.1
2006 ‘Open Source Fine Art: infinities of meaning for an age of finite means’ in Media Mutandis: surveying art, technologies and politicseds. Vishmidt, Francis, Walsh and Sykes (London: NODE.London)
2006 Contributing editor to Media Mutandis (as above): responsible for commissioning for and editing the 30,000 word section reviewing and exploring issues of Open Congress
2017 ‘Really, what is “Academic Freedom”?’ Keynote address to the Art and Design Learning, Teaching and Employability Staff Conference, Sheffield Hallam University
2015 ‘3 Thoughts on Practice-based Research’ Keynote address to Staff training session on Practice-based research, University of Gloucester
2014 ‘The Task of the Translator in the Age of Digital Reproduction.' Keynote address to the Found in Translation symposium, University of Sussex
2012 ‘An artist’s writing of research as a Baroque poetics’ a symposium on Expression and Research, Royal College of Art, London
2011 Keynote address: ‘Diplomacy as art: the implications of the “Social Turn” - conversation and negotiation as aesthetic form’ for The Language of Arts and Music, London, organised by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, Berlin
2010 ‘From Studio to Seminar: Art School’s Divided Discourse’ for Looking Back at the Life Room, UCL
2009 ‘Here and there: an artist's writing as aesthetic form’- a play script presented as performed conference text and artwork for exhibition for The Art of Research, 2009, University of Art and Design, Helsinki
2009 ‘Here and there: an artist's writing as aesthetic form’ - a play-script presented as a virtual contribution for Writing Intersections, University of Technology, Sydney
2009 ‘What is Critique?’for ArtWORK, CritiqueWORK, a symposium with Chelsea College of Art & Design, London Metropolitan University and Goldsmiths College
2007 ‘Art and the Value of Situational Fiction’ for The Art of Research: Research Narratives – Chelsea College of Art & Design, London
2008 Keynote address: ‘Art as Research: a Glossary of terms’ for Artistic Research, Iceland Academy of the Arts
2008 ‘From Problem to Problematic: Collaborative Art Practice as Research: Discussion of Aesthetic Quality in Working Process’ for Sensuous Knowledge 5: Questioning Qualities, Bergen Academy of Art, Norway
2007 ‘Systems: Art and Collaboration’ for Systems Art, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
2007 ‘Collaborative Art Practice and Research in the Art School’ for Future
Reflections, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London
2005 ‘Open Source Fine Art’ – a presentation on the artwork The Blooming Commons staged as part of Open Congress at Tate Britain a congress on the implications of Open Source for cultural production.
2005 ‘What work does the work of art do? A demonstration’ for What Work Does the Work of Art Do? (2): A symposium with Art & Language organised by London Metropolitan University, at London’s Guildhall.
2003 ‘What work does the artwork do?’ for What work does the work of art do? A symposium with Art & Language, London Metropolitan University.
1997 ‘Writing, Art and Research’ for Redefining Art (a conference on research in Fine Art), Goldsmiths College, London.
1995 ‘Embodying the “I”: the re-emerging body of the artist and the viewer: fiction or foundation?’ for Bodily Fictions (a conference on the Body and representation), Brunel University, London
1993 ‘Virtuous Realities: Reading Installation’ for Incisions: A Symposium on the Body and Installation, Sheffield Hallam University
1993 ‘Unruly Women and the Rules of Art: Self-expression and Experience’ for Women in Art Practice, University of Plymouth
1992 ‘The implications of Art Practice Operating in Relation to Corporate Culture’ for Discretion, a symposium on art and corporate culture, Canary Wharf, London
The Multiple Store, London (2008 – 2016) and Handel Street Projects, London
One-person shows and performances
2009 Collective Gallery, Edinburgh ‘Toast’ – a lecture-performance commissioned for Aleksandra Mir’s How Not to Cook book-launch
2009 University of Brighton, Sallis Benny Theatre‘ Art and the Value of Fictional Writing’ - contribution to The Art Lectures, Sallis Benny Theatre - a programme of events I devised exploring the lecture as a form for art
2008 York St John University ‘Art and the Value of Fictional Writing’ a lecture-demonstration as performance for the Writing Encounters conference
2008 Walsall New Art Gallery ‘Me, Myself and I: Not Her’ - a performative talk commissioned for Kelly Large’s Me, Myself and I artist’s residency
2005 Guildhall, London ‘What work does the work of art do? A lecture-demonstration’ for What work does the work of art do? (2) A symposium with Art & Language organised by London Metropolitan University
2004 - 2005 The Financial Services Authority, Canary Wharf London. Stall – commissioned artwork: a simulated flower stall, changing on a monthly basis, serving as a prompt for discussions between the artist and FSA employees about the role and value of art in the workplace
2002 London Underground, Piccadilly Circus, London. Covers: a series of posters for London Underground’s Platform for Art programme
2002 e1 gallery, London. Unsorted – the postcard archive of an oeuvre, with catalogue, and essay by Rebecca Fortnum
2002 The Faust Supplement an artist’s bookwork – supported by an AHRB award
2000 Beaconsfield, London. Mary Anne Francis: Group Show - with exhibition guide
2004 - 2008 As a core member of the collaborative research group Critical Practice Chelsea, I was active in many constituent projects e.g. • 2005 Open Congress at Tate Britain • 2006 Atelier Trans Palat Chelsea • 2007 Between at South London Gallery • contribution to Zeharmagazine for Documenta 12 • 2006 – 7 Future Archive • Beyond the Free Market which participated in The Really Super Market with Mima, Middlesbrough, 2007.
2004 St George’s Chapel of Rest, Bloomsbury, London Bloomsbury Blooms – a plastic flower stall; showing with Lucy Heyward
1998 Gasworks Gallery, London. mary, mary quite contrarywith Mary Lou Pavlovic
1995 Brick Lane and environs, London. Brick Lane, a public art project with Siraj Izhar of Strike arts organisation supported by a London Arts Board Award
Group shows since 2000
2017 Handel Street Projects Art of the Postcard
2017 Towner Gallery, Eastbourne. Sussex Open
2014 Handel Street Projects. Multiple Market, Florence Street, London N1
2012 Handel Street Projects. Multiple Market, Sicilian Avenue, London WC1
2010 Co-curator with Lucy Heyward of Super Farmers’ Market, London for Handel Street Projects – a group show with over 30 international artists including Sarah Lucas, Susan Hiller, Franz West, Richard Wentworth and Richard Deacon; also exhibited own artwork which was discussed in Richard Dyer’s Third Text article on the show
2008 Handel Street Projects. Farmers’ Market, Wigmore Street London
2008 Hold and Freight, London. For Those Killed in Ambush
2006 Cybersonica 06 at Phonica Records, London. International Festival of Music, Sound and Technology
2005 Tate Britain, London. The Blooming Commons for Open Congress
2005 35a Gallery, Brighton. Would, Silence, The Apology
2004 The Wordsworth Trust, Grassmere, Lake District. The Book Show
2003 The Nunnery, London. The Book Show
2002 e1 gallery, London group show
2000 Oriel Mostyn, Wales. 11 Mostyn Open
Artist’s books include: rose; Graven Images; freudian slip; Sarah Scribner: tabulae erasae, and ‘Mary Anne Francis: Group Show exhibition guide’
Francis, Mary Anne (2016) Indifferent forms: the cultural politics of medium online, or the formal remit of diversity and difference Third Text, 29 (6). pp. 432-444. ISSN 0952-8822
Francis, Mary Anne (2014) The dark side of art’s social turn: towards a discourse on the impact of art’s use of social forms upon the social Journal for Cultural Research, 18 (1). pp. 25-43. ISSN 1479-7585
Francis, Mary Anne (2010) ‘Widening Participation’ in the Fine Art Ph.D.: expanding research and practice Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education, 9 (2). pp. 167-182. ISSN 1474-273X
Francis, Mary Anne (2010) Here and there: an artist's writing as aesthetic form Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 3 (2). pp. 97-109. ISSN 1753-5190
Francis, Mary Anne (2009) Discussion paper from the working group on “Situational Fiction” Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 2 (2). pp. 151-158. ISSN 1753-5190
Francis, Mary Anne (2008) A theory of critique…in practice: practice as critique Journal of Visual Arts Practice, 7 (3). ISSN 1470-2029
Francis, Mary Anne (2008) In the Café Flaubert Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 1 (2). pp. 133-149. ISSN 1753-5190
Francis, Mary Anne (2007) Dirty work: art beyond ‘autonomy’ Journal of Visual Art Practice, 6 (1). ISSN 1470-2029
Francis, Mary Anne (2007) Dirty Work: Art Beyond Autonomy Journal of Visual Art Practice, 6 (1). pp. 33-44. ISSN 14702029
Mary Anne, Francis (2006) Media Mutandis NODE, London, UK.
Francis, Mary Anne, Walsh, Jo, Sykes, Lewis and Vishmidt, Marina, eds. (2006) Media Mutandis: Surveying Art, Technologies and Politics Node, London. ISBN 0955243505
2004 – 2007
Journal of Visual Art Practice, Editor-in-Chief (appointed to editorial board 2006)
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), member of the Peer Reviewer College (appointed 2012)
Philosophy of Photography journal, Advisory Board member (appointed 2010)
Reviewer for Third Text journal
National Association for Fine Art Education (NAFAE), steering group member
St John's College, University of Oxford Fine Art DLitt, External Examiner
University of Portsmouth, External on MRes Creative Industries validation panel
2013 - 2017
Falmouth University, External Examiner, BA Fine Art (Critical Studies)
2010 – 2013
Glasgow School of Art, External Examiner, MFA
Central St Martin’s College of Art & Design, internal (UAL) examiner for PhD upgrade
Norwich University College of the Arts, external examiner for PhD upgrade
Chelsea College of Art & Design, internal examiner for PhD upgrade
2014 University of Brighton, sabbatical award
2008 With Dr Hayley Newman, CLIP-CETL award, University of the Arts London, for researching Widening Participation at PhD level study
2004 – 2007 With Professor Neil Cummings: successful bids to Chelsea College of Art & Design for funding to support the Critical Practice Research Cluster
2005 University of Brighton: Faculty of Arts Research Funding for research leave
2004 ‘Stall’ commissioned by the Financial Services Authority with monthly time-based element funded by the FSA
2002 University of Brighton: Faculty of Arts Research Funding for AHRB project
2002 Arts and Humanities Research Board: Small Grant in the Creative and Performing Arts
2000 Mary Anne Francis: Group Show financially assisted by the Vauxhall Festival
2000 University of Brighton: Faculty of Arts Research Funding for Mary Anne Francis: Group Show
2000 Goldsmiths College, London: research funding for Mary Anne Francis: Group Show
1998 Brunel University: research funding for mary, mary quite contrary
1997 London Arts Board / Morley College Summer Writing School Bursary
1996 Brunel University Teaching Initiatives and Strategic Development Award for Developing a new module in Visual Culture
1995 Brick Lane project financed with a London Arts Board award to Strike; project also financially assisted by the Paul Hamlyn foundation