February 16th, 2023Artists of the Central Highlands with Eve Lamb
The prolific creative output of Wheatsheaf artist Frances Guerin is informed
by a background in philosophy and transpersonal psychology. Frances began solo
exhibiting in the early 1980s and today her whimsical “humaroos” are particularly popular
Eve: How do you prefer to describe your style?
Frances: My style is eclectic, encompassing ceramics painting and drawing and assemblage. After
retiring from human services in 2005, I completed a Diploma of Ceramics at Federation University, a
fantastic course, then graduated with a Masters of Visual Arts at LaTrobe Bendigo, focusing on Irish
contemporary art that drew links between pre- Celtic spirituality and the Australian First Nations
Eve: How did you come to art?
Frances: My father took me to Bendigo Art Gallery when I was about eight and I was hooked.
My mother had a selection of prints by French impressionists, classical works and a fine selection
of ceramic vases and figurines, and she would often encourage me to paint, probably to get me out of
her hair. I loved art history and did many journeys across Europe, Egypt and Asia trawling through
archaeological sites, museums and galleries, filling journals with sketches of Old Masters works.
Eve: Which artists have influenced your own work?
Frances: Early on I loved anything ‘trippy’ like Salvador Dali. Then the feminist
artists who opened the door for women, like Judy Chicago and Paula Rego. More
recently when I was travelling through Ireland, I saw the public art was both
enchanting and moving…
Eve: What’s your medium and subject matter of choice?
Frances: I move between drawing and ceramics. Ceramics is demanding, a week’s
work can be lost during a firing. The terrible ping of a cracking or shattering can put
me off for weeks. At the moment I work between large face pots, figurines, and small
animals. The humaroos are my ‘iconic’ best seller, so I like to keep a number in stock.
More recently after the Australian Ballet performed Harlequinade last year, I have
made several sets of the Commedia del’arte characters.
Eve: Have you ever worked in any other area besides your arts practice?
Frances: I worked as a therapist for many years, with individuals and groups,
after training in transpersonal psychology. Then worked as an education officer in
health and did some teaching at tertiary institutions. After establishing a vipassana
meditation practise, I taught hundreds of classes in Melbourne and Central Victoria.
On several occasions I had the opportunity to do some event management, including
two tours of Tibetan monks and nuns creating sand mandalas.
Eve: When you work do you like to play music and if so what is your music of choice?
Frances: Dead Can Dance, Buddha Bar, Clannad, Lisa Gerrard, classical music.
Eve: To date, what have been your career highlights as an artist?
Frances: Craft Lab Ballarat Mining Exchange 2022, UNESCO listing Folk Art
and Craft best exhibit Royal Melbourne Show and a Julia Gillard face pot purchased
by the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Eve: Finally, do you have any exhibitions or special arts events coming up?
Frances: Immortal Diamond Exhibition is showing at the Southbank Vitrines,
152 Sturt Street, Melbourne until February 26. And I will have an open studio at 55
Whitegum Drive, Wheatsheaf during the ChillOut weekend, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.