Frances Cannon is a multidisciplinary artist working predominantly in drawing and painting in ink, gouache and watercolor. Much of her work focuses on the female body and the female psyche and can be viewed as diaristic as it is primarily based on personal experience. Frances' work examines what it is like to be a woman in contemporary times; looking at ideas of body-love and body-loathing, anxiety, relationships, sex and sexuality, gender, and bodily functions. We've spoken to Frances about her empowering work.
September 15, 1992
Where are you originally from? My parents are Australian but I grew up in Thailand as they work there. I was in Thailand until I was 19 then I moved back to Australia for university!
Where do you currently live? In Melbourne
Preferred art medium Ink, watercolour, gouache on paper
Hobby or interest aside from art?
I love watching movies and TV (Jane the Virgin is my current obsession) and I love petting dogs.
Guilty pleasures? Nah I don’t believe in guilty pleasures! If it’s a pleasure and it makes you happy just do it! Eat all the chocolate you like. Get all the massages you like! Self care is so important!
Who are some of your favorite artists?
I love Louise Bourgeois, Marlene Dumas, Frida Kahlo, David Shrigley, Nancy Spero, Tuesday Bassen, Phoebe Wahl… lots more but that will do for now!
Favorite movie? The Princess Bride, Ratatouille, I Could Never Be Your Woman
Favorite book? The BFG by Roald Dahl and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favorite song/album/band/musician? Anything by Beyonce, Rihanna,The Script, Tegan and Sara, Passenger
What are 3 things you want to achieve? I want to have an exhibition overseas, I want to grow my own herb garden, I want to publish a book!
What is something you deeply love about yourself? I love my ability to see the good in things.
How has Instagram worked for you as an artist? It’s been an incredible tool to connect with other artists and feminists and to share my work.
Briefly describe the circumstances under which you grew up I grew up in a very religious family, so anything to do with bodies, sexuality, nudity, was frowned upon.
How do you think these circumstances influenced your art?
… well obviously I draw a lot of nude figures now so I have gotten past my conservative upbringing and been able to see the worth and beauty in the human figure and the importance of sharing love for the body!
“[A few days ago, Trump became president] so i’ve been drawing a lot from these circumstances, making work about staying hopeful, about fighting for your rights, and about standing by and helping one another”
What would you say are your artwork’s main themes? The body, mental health, feminism, personal experiences and thoughts (like a diary), current world issues and how they affect women in particular.
How would you describe your style?
I have two quite distinct styles. One is simple black linework on a white background, the other is bold, intense colours swirling and mixing together surrounding figures. Each style is very important to me and my practice.
Can you remember a specific experience from your life that has shaped who you are and what you do as an artist today?
Hmm.. the first one that came to mind is when I first had sex with my boyfriend, both our families shamed us for having sex outside of marriage. It was so traumatic and very humiliating the way that we were spoken to. I was made to feel shame for ‘losing my virginity’ (though ‘virginity’ is a term constructed by the patriarchy anyway). I think this was an important step (even though it was really difficult at the time) to discovering my feminism and realizing how important it is to empower women and women’s rights to do what they want to their bodies!!!! It’s something I am VERY passionate about.
What are you communicating with your art?
The importance of accepting all bodies.
(Certain) Artists tend to have a stereotype attached to them of being dramatic with addictive personalities. What do you feel about this assumption?
I think it’s silly.
Do you find yourself drawn to any addictive disorder?
No not really.
Have you had any struggle with mental illness and if so, would you like to share your experience with us?
Yes, I struggle with anxiety! At the moment I have a good handle on it, but over the past couple of years I’ve struggled with panic and anxiety attacks … usually brought on by a stressful situation or pressure to perform a certain way (at uni etc). I haven’t had a bad anxiety attack for a few months now (yay!) but my personal anxiety includes a lot of crying, inability to work, more crying, the feeling of not being able to escape or overcome something, more crying. I’m learning to handle my mental illness better as I learn more about it and am open to healing.
“I have gotten past my conservative upbringing and been able to see the worth and beauty in the human figure and the importance of sharing love for the body”
Artists paths are normally non-linear. Can you recall for us what your path has been like?
It’s been a bit of everything! I’ve been studying art for the past 4 years (I’ve just finished! Yay me!) but alongside studying Fine Art, I’ve been growing my own business through social media and online - all of which I do all by myself. So I have both formal training (sort of) and am self taught.
What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have to keep the creative juices flowing?
Lots of drawing drawing drawing. Spending time with other artists and learning from them, looking at art, taking photos… and lots of practice!
Do you think your ethnicity, gender, and/or personal preferences drove you towards becoming an artist? If so, please explain.
No, not for me personally (though I’m sure for some artists this is very true). For me, being creative has always been an important part of my life since an early age. It’s ingrained in me and comes so naturally to me that I don’t think I could do anything else other than being an artist! I’m truly lucky and overwhelmed with happiness that I am being recognized for my work. It’s a dream come true!
If you could change one thing in how the world works, what would it be?
Oh please. Let’s get rid of sexism and racism once and for all.
What is your opinion of the art world as it is right now? is there anything you'd like to change?
I don’t like the art world very much. I think it’s quite stale and still very male dominated. I think that independent women artists are far more interesting, as they are making a space for themselves (whether that is opening their own gallery, or sharing their work online). I’m far more interested in them than what’s showing at the big art galleries.
“Let’s get rid of sexism and racism once and for all”
How do you think the internet aids/complements the art world? And how do you think it deteriorates it? I love the internet and I don’t think it deteriorates art at all. I guess the only annoying thing is that people can steal art without crediting the artist… but that’s just a side effect of showing your art to so many people.
What draws you towards your particular art medium?
I’ve always drawn, it’s what I know best.
How have you developed your own unique style?
It came very naturally. I’ve always been interested in drawing people and figures (yes, if you’re asking, I did have a manga/anime phase… no, I won’t show you). It just took time and practice and then once I found my current ‘style’ it just felt right. Though I’m happy to move on if I find a style that I enjoy more in a few years time. Art is constantly moving, it’s dangerous to be stuck in the same thing for too long.
What are the main obstacles you have had to overcome as an artist?
Being a woman. Describe briefly the current cultural circumstances you live in now?
Well, as of a couple days ago, Trump became president. There are a lot of women and minorities who are feeling very afraid right now and expressing this fear online.
How do you think these circumstances influence your art?
I’ve been drawing a lot from these circumstances, making work about staying hopeful, about fighting for your rights, and about standing by and helping one another.
What project/series are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished uni so I’m winding down for a bit and having a holiday. But I have lots of plans for next year!
“Art is constantly moving, it’s dangerous to be stuck in the same thing for too long”
Any upcoming shows/ plans?
Yes I have a couple of shows booked in for next year but nothing that I can talk about just yet.
Anything else you’d like to add? LOVE YOU ALL
Follow Her Work Here: