In 2000 Fran obtained her Bachelor of Archaeology (Hons) at the University of Wales in Lampeter, U.K. After moving to New Zealand in 2001 Fran studied at the Northland Polytechnic, graduating with her Bachelor of Applied Arts (Hons) in 2006, she then went on to obtain her Masters of Art and Design through AUT in 2009. She works from of her Kawakawa studio in Northland, and has exhibited widely and sells internationally.
“I have always found solace and purpose in the act of formulating my thoughts, memories, dreams, and ideologies into tangible forms. My ancestors were lace makers, seamstresses, goldsmiths and engineers; I feel their hands pushing upon my back every day when I work.” (Fran Leitch 2011)
Fran’s past immersion in archaeology and museum display has created a strong influential base for her conceptualization within the arts. The interest with subterranean depths flows through her work metaphorically and physically (i.e. the use of sgraffito in her drawings reveal the built up layers of ink and gold leaf to expose and excavate the raw underbelly of the medium and the ideologies which underpin it) which is noted in her recent body of work ‘The old tarts brigade (2017)’. In the drawn work entitled ‘Unfathomable depth of secrets’, “these old tarts hold onto gossip which they share together at meetings in their secret underground sect, even when they are above ground, these cavernous voids still reverberate with their ignorant rantings; we feel these shockwaves as rumbles and rolls beneath our feet every day. ”
Parallels can be formed with The French philosopher Gaston Bachelard (1958), whose discussion into these subterranean forces are mentioned in his book “The poetics of space”. ‘When we dream [of these spaces] there we are in harmony with the irrationality of the depths.’p.18*
Alongside this, the works of Kiki Smith, Lowry, Alfred Wallis, Bill Traylor, Francis Upritchard, Grayson Perry , Lisa Walker, and Iris Eichenberg, Seamus Heaney, and Edward Thomas flood Fran’s work with their wisdom and inspiration as she journeys along this path…
*B, Gaston (1958 translation), In Stilgoe J.R. (1994)”The poetics of Space: The classic look at how we experience intimate places”. Beacon press book
Fran is constantly producing new work, so stock is changing all the time. She is working feverishly at the moment as she has also participated in two group shows at the NZ Academy of Fine Art in Wellington this year, and hopes to also show at Fingers in the near future.
Do ask to see more than is on display when you visit, Fran’s collection is always changing and developing, this unique and talented artist is so accomplished and refreshingly original.
Update November 2019
Breaking News ! Fran has been accepted in the Handshake 6 project 2020-2021.
She has been chosen to work with Iris Eichenberg, at the Cranbrook Academy of Fine Art in the USA for a three month Residency next year.
A Huge congratulation to her and we look forward to seeing what she produces for and after this wonderful experience and opportunity.