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Set of 6 Urns 2004

Francis Upritchard (born 1976, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Set of 6 Urns
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Copyright: Copyright The Artist; Courtesy of the Artist and Kate MacGarry, London

Francis Upritchard is based in London, where she set up an alternative arts space, the Bart Wells Institute, with fellow artist Luke Gottelier. Much of her work is influenced by museums and the way that they present history and other cultures. Domestic displays of ornaments or souvenirs also fascinate her. Through her work she asks why we feel the need to order and categorise the past, to hold onto it. The clumsy fakeness of her artefacts speaks of desperation, an obsession with appearing to control what has gone before, since the course of the future is out of our hands. Black humour and a D.I.Y. aesthetic are the trademarks of Upritchardís work. Charged with the disposal of the corpse of the family cat, she stuffed it by following a taxidermistís manual. The amateurish result was both funny and macabre. The same fascination with death and its attendant rituals is evident in the funereal vessels created from second-hand junk. German flea-market vases from the sixties and seventies have been reactivated with modelled animal heads to ape canopic urns. These ancient Egyptian repositories contained the organs of mummified corpses. By referencing the Ďlegitimateí activities of Victorian grave robbers, Upritchard raises ethical and political questions regarding the museumís role and responsibilities. Grouped together the urns form a mini collection, as amassed by an enthusiast or institution over time, each jarís individual history juxtaposed with that of its neighbour. Upritchardís crude approximation of the highly symbolic original objects is a metaphor for our present inadequate defences against the inevitability of our own demise.

Acquisition Details

Acquired from Kate MacGarry, London, 2005
Purchased with funds from the National Collecting Scheme for Scotland which was originated and operated 2003-2006 by the Contemporary Art Society and supported by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council.
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