Frances Pelly

Frances Pelly has worked as a practicing sculptor since completing her postgraduate art degree in Dundee, having resided in Orkney since she was invited to be an artist in residence at the Highland Park Distillery more than 30 years ago. Frances draws a lot of inspiration from her surroundings, exploring the local land, seascape and flora in her unique forms. Frances has also travelled internationally with her work, having also completed notable residencies at Fort William Library, The Eden Project and on Baffin Island.

Sculptor

Frances Pelly

The Orkney Islands, Scotland

View all Products

THE PROCESS

Frances crafts her pieces using natural, locally-sourced materials which are sometimes recycled, for ethical, financial and philosophical reasons. Her latest collection is informed by the techniques employed in the making process, such as modelling, carving and casting; resulting in dynamic, abstract pieces. Each object is unique and is usually inspired by something she has found, or seen, or been moved by – usually gleaned from nature. Creating sculptural work with a tactile quality is important to Frances and the artist often uses materials such as leaves and flowers to make decorative imprints, further incorporating nature into her design.

Q&A

1. What motivates you to make?

The Japanese concept Ikigai which translates to ‘reason for being’, is for me, my creativity and my motivation. The environment, weather and tides hold me in their thrall and govern life here on Orkney. I love using my hands and using natural materials – sometimes creating something from ‘nothing’. I hope to pass on the enjoyment I glean from the tactile qualities of sculpture in an effort to help restore a more creative use of our hands. My subject matter, too, brings an awareness of the natural world which has made its presence felt during lockdowns and now needs our full attention.

2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?

My primary inspiration is derived from a closeness to, and great respect for, the natural world. Orkney is my home of thirty three years and it not only provides a rich source of ancient cultures, archaeology and artefacts to draw from, but its environment, land and seascapes also feed my imagination.

I am fascinated by the hand-crafted work in many cultures – from the earliest cave drawings to the hand skills of today. These range widely from primitive and decorative pieces, Inuit sculpture and printmaking, to functional and structural items using natural materials. I spent my early years in West Africa and have inherited a collection of wooden carved relief panels, stools and fabrics. Japanese culture, particularly early woodblock prints, has been a continual influence since my school days.

3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?

My ceramic pods and small soapstone sculptures of hares and birds could be linked to Netsuke or Inuit carvings. They grew from being economical with my materials and evoke notions of collecting and gathering. My ultimate wish is for my work to be handled. This reinforces their tactile qualities and encourages greater use of our hands.

Many years ago I lost several pieces in an exhibition where visitors were encouraged to handle the work. My fault, but, like cuttings, they yearn to be taken – they are a long way from plinth-bound sculptures in galleries with ‘do not touch’ labels.

My work leans towards abstraction and employs modelling, carving, casting, assembling and printing techniques. I love innovating as well as working within limitations and I am often guided by the economy of materials. My solitary work, surrounded by the landscape of Orkney, is counterbalanced by collaboration with other artists, poets and craftspeople.

4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?

Many years ago I was honoured to win prizes, awards and scholarships at the Royal Scottish Academy, first as a student and in later years as a practicing artist. Last year, I received a lovely email from two nurses in the USA who had bought one of my small soapstones. They mentioned how much the piece comforted and helped them cope in the Covid crisis. The effort they had taken to contact me, considering all they were enduring, was incredibly humbling and heartwarming. It is worth all the awards in the world when a client writes to say thank you.

5. What is your dream project?

I’d love to have more time to produce one-off sculpture pieces. Probably assemblages combining 2D and 3D, utilising a variety of natural materials and techniques. Several years ago I researched the use of natural pigments on stone, relating in particular to the archaeological site here in Orkney, the Ness of Brodgar. Inspired by the results I used these pigments in some of my own pieces. In this challenging and inspiring research work I had adopted primitive methods using only materials that would have been available in Neolithic times. Tools were of hard stone, basalt, flint and granite. Fragments of stone, clay, charcoal, merl (coral) or minerals such as haematite and lead were ground with stone pestles to produce a fine powder and mixed with various liquids such as water, blood, milk, fat, egg, seaweed and clay slip. Pigment was then applied using fingers, feathers, leather or fleece pads and willow sticks. Other work then took precedence and many ideas were shelved. As ever, they lie in wait.

To be kept informed about new collections from Frances Pelly, please email [email protected]

ALL PRODUCTS

View as Grid List

18 Products found

  1. Ceramic Seed Pod No. 35
    Ceramic Seed Pod No. 35
    Frances Pelly
    £150
  2. Ceramic Seed Pod No. 31
    Ceramic Seed Pod No. 31
    Frances Pelly
    £200
  3. Ceramic Seed Pod No. 33
    Ceramic Seed Pod No. 33
    Frances Pelly
    £200
  4. Flying Ceramic Seed Pod I
    Flying Ceramic Seed Pod I
    Frances Pelly
    £200
  5. Dandelion Ceramic Seed Pod II
    Dandelion Ceramic Seed Pod II
  6. Ceramic Seed Pod No. 36
    Ceramic Seed Pod No. 36
    Frances Pelly
    £150
  7. Dandelion Ceramic Seed Pod I
    Dandelion Ceramic Seed Pod I
    Frances Pelly
    £180
  8. Flying Ceramic Seed Pod II
    Flying Ceramic Seed Pod II
    Frances Pelly
    £200
  9. Ceramic Seed Pod No. 37
    Ceramic Seed Pod No. 37
    Frances Pelly
    £150
  10. Bird Soapstone Carving
    Bird Soapstone Carving
    Frances Pelly
    £720
  11. Rookie Soapstone Carving
    Rookie Soapstone Carving
    Out of stock
    Frances Pelly
    £420
    Out of stock
  12. Peeweet Soapstone Carving
    Peeweet Soapstone Carving
    Frances Pelly
    £600
  13. Doo Soapstone Carving
    Doo Soapstone Carving
    Frances Pelly
    £720
  14. Soapstone Hares Sculpture
    Soapstone Hares Sculpture
    Frances Pelly
    £960
  15. Running Bronze Hare Sculpture
    Running Bronze Hare Sculpture
    Frances Pelly
    £1,600
  16. Peedie Creepie Stool
    Peedie Creepie Stool
    Frances Pelly
    £2,040
  17. Big Creepie Stool
    Big Creepie Stool
    Out of stock
    Frances Pelly
    £2,400
    Out of stock
  18. Three Legged Creepie Stool
    Three Legged Creepie Stool
    Out of stock
    Frances Pelly
    £2,400
    Out of stock
View as Grid List

18 Products found