AN OAK LEATHER FORESTby Blog Editor, Selvedge
Image: Frances Pinnock, Photo by Alun Callendar
They say you can make anything out of leather. Rather than bags or shoes, Frances Pinnock is an artist whose practice explores the possibilities of oak bark leather as a medium for sculpture and object making. Working primarily with full thickness sole bend leather, produced by the last remaining oak bark pit tanners in the UK, Frances employs traditional hand stitching techniques and pattern cutting to investigate the properties of form, shape and volume.
Image 2, 3 and 4: Frances Pinnock, Twisted Oak 2021, process. Photo by Joe Thomas.
Through observational and abstract drawings, Frances’ work draws influence from forms in nature and the human figure – in particular her aesthetic is indebted to the minimalist line explored by modernist sculptors such as Hepworth, Moore and Calder. She has a particular interest in historical leather artefacts and her ‘Bombard’ vessels are influenced by communal leather drinking vessels of the 15th and 16th Century.
Her technical skills and interest for hand construction stems from a background in traditional bespoke leatherwork, and since graduating in 2014, she has been creating for the luxury leather goods and interiors industry. In 2017 Frances was awarded both a QEST and Heritage Craft Association scholarship to develop her hand stitching working and trained as a hand sewn shoe maker. It is here that she began experimenting with Oak bark sole bend leather and has gone on to create sculptural vessel forms.
Time and environment are very influential within her practice and the many hours of hand stitching allow a space for focus and reflection. Details such as scarring, that can be read within the surface of the skin, tell of the animal's life, and hook holes speak of the process by which the leather is created.
Now, Frances has created two large floor standing vessels that push even her exploration of scale to the limit. The centerpiece is a 2m tall free-standing structure that tested her physical limits for hand stitching as well as the ability of her materials to express complex forms during factors like the effects of seasonal temperature during making.
“The way in which this sculpture piece has developed over the last year has been fascinating for me and is the result of a new approach to concept development that I will carry with me into future projects.
I began taking long walks and making drawings of interesting trees that I met, exploring their fluid truncation and the rare occasion that a branch had grown back into itself to create a porthole to another world. These drawings fed into my dreams at the time, where the forms would continue to shift and change and I would see new figures as I began to wake, quickly making a drawing of the new configuration. This became a routine for several weeks before the piece finally came to rest in its current form and I was able to begin prototyping in 3D and patterning. Initially considered as a wall piece, the form has stepped down off of the wall and out into the space, in order to be read and experienced from all around.”
Image: Frances Pinnock, Two Standing Forms, 2021. Photo by Alun Callendar
Frances Pinnock will be exhibiting her sculptures as part of Future Heritage at Decorex Virtual, taking place online from 16 - 18 November 2021. Find out more here: Decorex Virtual 2021 | Decorex