PAST: THE CONCEPT OF JUSTICE
85x116cm, black fine point pen on paper
Click on the thumbnails to view full image
ABOUT THE WORK
In Frances' own words
Limits: 50 Hours of Community Service
Pen on Paper
My artwork typically concerns labour; when I read this brief, I knew I wanted to do something to represent the work of magistrates and my personal experience of the Magistrates Court.
Having recently experienced the judicial system, appearing at Lincoln Magistrates Court in January 2020, I understand the powers magistrates possess.
I was ordered to pay a fine of £225 and commit to 50-hours community service by the Lincoln Magistrates.
For this commission, I have decided I will use the 50-hours of community service I was given to reflect on what I did and how I will move on from my crime using my own art practise. Incorporating my art practice, I drew, using pen and paper, for 50-hours. The project is entitled “Limits: 50-hours of community-service” and is based on my current art practice and the notion of labour.
Limits began in 2015 when I needed a way to visually quantify my own day’s labour in relation to labour undertaken by my family and partner. To do this I would spend hours each day building an undulating mass of 2mm diameter circles on surface of the paper. Today, this process is defined by a specific set of hours constrained by a specific paper size. As such, the concept of Limits is simple: if my partner spent 3 hours MOT testing a truck, I would also spend 3 hours drawing in order to equally quantify my own labour.
“The concept of justice” may be regarded as an opportunity for the offender, time for reflection, growth and most importantly change. For this exhibition I made of my 50 hours what I could; using them as an opportunity to self-reflect, grow and change, in the same way I did my actual community service.
I have selected the past 100 years of justice in conjunction with the concept of justice for the simple reason that I cannot change what I did. My time within Lincoln’s Magistrates Court has passed. I fit into the category of ‘offender’ and have been given the opportunity to reform personally. I am undertaking many hours of socially-worthwhile work in order to repay my debt to society; without this opportunity for personal growth I may not be the person, or artist, I am now.
The past 100 years have, and continue to, shape the punishments of offenders each day, where reflection can be truly restorative.
Frances Hodson was born in Grimsby, NE Lincolnshire, in 1996. As a visual artist she predominantly works with drawing, paint and sculpture. Her work concerns labour, colour and availability. Combining these elements she aims to create a complex flurry of ideas which are both aesthetically pleasing but simple to engage with. After completing her university studies in Fine Art (BA Hons 1st) and MA in Arts and Cultural Management (Merit), she moved back to Grimsby where she lives with her partner and dog.
We had a short chat with Frances to get to know her better
What is your creative background? How did you start making art?
My parents are both architects so I was always dragged around galleries and museums as a child. My earliest memory was actually interaction with art. There was one museum where you had to hand something pink and you would get a pink rose back. It was so simple but so meaningful. To this day I hold that in the back of my mind when I am creating - is it accessible? Will it be understood by any age group?
What are some of your creative influences?
Bernadette O'Toole and the way she uses colour - she tries to mix the perfect grey (more of a philosopher than an artist). I had a workshop with her and tried to mix the perfect grey too. It’s the simple things that really spur ideas forward I think. Richard Serra’s list of verbs made me realise that not everything in art has to be complicated, sometimes the most basic things work best.
Reading John Berger, Art in the Age of Mechanical Production and Constructivism resonated strongly with me. I liked that art had a function - it was not just aesthetic, it had purpose, it posed questions.
A lot of your current work is drawn circles - how did that come about?
At university I struggled with the idea that people would look at me and think that I did nothing all day because I am an artist. I felt so strongly that I am a grafter, I work hard and I really wanted to show that. My partner Matt works in a car shop, so I decided to look at his day and try to replicate it. I would draw during his working hours, doing the same thing continuously. It was a way for me to document labour, time passing, love, thought progression.
I started with drawing lines - I would take an A3 sheet of paper, draw some curved lines and then fill the gaps between them to look like hair. Then it developed into circles - a pleasant physical movement, easy to repeat, simple like a doodle, quick to do. I felt that it was easy for people to understand too: “There’s loads of them - it must've taken ages”. It was very direct and impactful.
How do you go about creating a piece?
I work in hour intervals, so I set a time for 57 minutes and that’s my drawing time. The 3 minutes is how long it takes me to boil a kettle and make a cup of tea. You get lost in repetitive motion so you need something to break you out of it.
First time I did this I started drawing from the top left corner and I really didn’t like it. The drawing felt stuck and confined. Now I start in the middle of a big piece of paper and I let the shape of it unfold organically. The size of the paper depends on the amount of time I am going to spend on a drawing - I can kind of tell now how big of a space I would need for various durations.
The amount of time can be something meaningful (like 50 hours for this commission) or it can be dictated by the size of the paper I am working on. I look at negative space, I “listen” to the drawing - does it look like a complete form or is there more that I need to do?
What are your preferred tools?
I always use 220gsm smooth paper. I love Daler & Rowney paper with a pinkish tint and luxurious feel. For the pens I experimented with different nibs and types of pen. I even had an argument with my tutor about buying more expensive pens but I found that the 0.2mm Uniball pen is the best tool for me.
I see a lot of yellow in your images too, can you tell me about that?
The colour yellow always resonated with me. I remember doing some reading on psychology of colour and it fascinated me how controversial yellow was: some people loved it and some found it nauseating. I even had a Tumblr page dedicated to the colour yellow while I was at school.
My tutor was talking about not using paint directly from the tube, so I mixed a whole bunch of yellows together and came up with a colour that I really loved. He advised me to try and make my own oil paint, and in the process I learnt that you can have your own blend of paint made at B&Q. I took a swatch of my paint and I now have my very own Frances Hodson Yellow.