Ellice vs. Francis Upritchard


Time for more personal confessions: though I was born and raised in downtown Toronto, my family hails from cold, flat Winnipeg. I had mixed feelings about Winnipeg growing up, as I was dragged there every summer to stay at my grandparents’ weird house where I had to sleep on a rock-hard davenport in a room with a creepy poster of the Beatles demonstrating yogic flying (I swear that’s true!). So trust me, when you read this and think “A former electoral district in south-western Winnipeg? UGH!”, I understand where you’re coming from. I was once like you.

But I grew up and realized that Winnipeg is a lovely city (murder rate aside), and I love going there (everyone is really nice and the perogies are delicious). The people are friendly and hard core enough to barbecue in -30 weather. In fact, they celebrate -30 weather because when it’s that cold you can do the hot water trick. So it is with pride that I defend Ellice. Ellice has got a cute little theatre and cafe. Plus, look at that cute bakery!

Apparently Ellice was too large a district, so it was divided into two ridings in 1989, Minto and St. James (where my mom grew up in a candy store. True story!) Both Minto and St. James are great neighborhoods and great ridings – both pretty safely NDP, and also where my mom was born. No Ellice, no my mom, no me, no Tournament of Everything. Can an artist from New Zealand make that kind of claim? Will an artist from New Zealand give you the best perogies of your life? Because Ellice will.


Francis Upritchard

Save Yourself. Do it for art. Vote for Francis Upritchard and not some non-existent electoral district in Winnipeg.

All right, no fooling around here. When you’re an artist representing your country at the Venice Biennale, it’s a big fucking deal. Held every two years, this festival showcases some of the best in contemporary art. New Zealand’s Francis Upritchard is one of those best. That’s evident from her work, Save Yourself.

According to the Saatchi Gallery: “The work plays on all the worst b-movie gags – unearthed beneath the gallery is an ‘ancient’ tomb devised by a Pharaoh with a very Ed Wood sense of humour. Her mummy-on-the-cheap (a mass of rags, with a knowing glass eye), unearthed with all his burial treasures – a bar of gold (pack of fags), and earthly treasures (kitschy teapots), comes replete with his own curse: vibrating spasmodically, he might actually be frightening if his electric cord wasn’t in plain view.”

Do I know what that means? Fuck no! But it’s interesting to look at. And if I had more time than the half hour we give ourselves to write these things then I’m sure I could come up with an informed opinion on what the work says to me. OK, maybe not informed. But I would have an interpretation. And I don’t think that Upritchard would be opposed to whatever it would be. The woman appears to be all class. None of this pretentious artist nonsense. Listen to her describe her work for yourself. There’s no laboured explanations here, no elevated plain of purpose here. If more artists were like Upritchard, maybe more people would actually go to museums. And tell me you wouldn’t want some of those sculptures to decorate your home. Awesome!

Published in: on February 3, 2010 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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