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FRANÇOISE SERGY

artist and gardener

 

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artist in mirror
the artist

 

 

Dance was Françoise’s first love. Born and brought up in Switzerland, she came to London in 1975 to study contemporary dance. She then slowly established herself as a dance artist, always performing on her own but creating works in collaboration with visual artists, photographers and choreographers. She then developed skills as a photographer and installation artist. She is also a 1st Dan in Tomiki Aikido, although she had to stop practicing the martial art suddenly after sustaining a major knee injury.

 

Françoise was a member of Brixton Art Gallery, a 1980s artists collective, and of Chisenhale Dance Space, an experimental dance and performance space, both in London. After ending her performance career in 2000, she focused on photography and installation, mainly through art and science projects. With residencies in hospitals, biochemistry institutions and botanical gardens, exploring medical imaging and scientific research, she is creating a unique body of work, bringing together separate worlds and disciplines in a way that only artists can.

 

At the age of 40 she fell in love with plants and trained as a gardener. Now working part-time as an artist, she finds that her projects take a long time to come to fruition but she doesn’t mind. She enjoys the scientific grounding horticulture has given her, using it as another tool in her creative process. Plants have become her main subjects - she finds them completely bewitching and wonderful to work with. Her aim is to reveal how important they are in our everyday life, even if we are not aware of this, and to celebrate them.

 

All of Françoise's past works are presented on this website: You can view videos of the performances, images of the installations and information about the art and science projects. The latter also have their own separate websites.

 

 

 

Art and Science

 

 

The Fox Got You

(separate website)

Fox Got You

www.foxgotyou.uk

 

The Fox Got You, art and science: exhibition (2015) and website (2016)

first exhibited at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, followed by a UK tour (7 venues)

artist residencies:

MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, Cambridge (UK)

William Harvey Research Institute, London (UK)

Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology, University of Warwick (UK)

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (UK)

 

The Fox Got You is Françoise’s most ambitious project to-date. Developed over a few years, it has enabled her for the first time to bring together her favourite themes: plants, the body, illness, medical science. It is a celebration of common plants at the origin of major medicinal drugs and features people involved at each stage of the journey from plants to drugs. The exhibition included a greenhouse transformed into a giant light box, as well as hand-made books and interactive exhibits.

 

The website features detailed plants portraits, with their anatomy and habitats, images of scientists at work and information about their research, the history of the drugs, interviews with doctors, patients and scientists and a series of artworks by the artist exploring scientific images and plant biology. Go to www.foxgotyou.uk.

 

 

Hop, Stock & Bent

(separate website)

Hop Stock & Bent

www.hopstockandbent.co.uk

 

Hop, Stock & Bent, art and science: exhibition (2006), interactive animation (2009) and website (2011)

first exhibited at The Manchester Museum, followed by a UK tour (4 venues)

artist residencies:

Millennium Seed Bank Project, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens (UK)

Wye Hops Research Station, Kent (UK)

 

Hop, Stock & Bent is a photo-biography of five common plants: Françoise’s first art and science project entirely dedicated to plants. She chose them because she liked their names and because they are ordinary plants, rarely noticed. She researched their uses, the place where they grow wild, the farms, gardens, parks and streets where they are cultivated and the people working with them. The artist also worked with scientists at the Millennium Seed Bank Project, part of the Royal Botanic Gardens, dissecting and photographing seeds under microscope. The work was shown as an exhibition of hand-made photography books, before becoming an interactive digital animation and a website.

 

www.hopstockandbent.co.uk includes images of the plants and their habitats, information about their role in our day to day life and their commercial use, as well as interviews of the people working with them.

 

 

 

Performance Works

 

 

femaleness

 

Françoise started performing in 1978 but most of her works were made between 1982 and 2000. She focused on women’s issues and feminist aesthetics, particularly the way the body is defined and perceived in western culture. Her signature style combined dance, projected slides and installations, creating highly visual and emotional works. The shows toured widely in the UK and Switzerland.

 

"One of Sergy’s most apparent gifts as a conceptualist and performer is her ability to convey serious statements in a gently powerful and often humorous way." (review, Arteast, UK)

 

“At one with her visual images and surrounded by sounds, screams, music soft or tearing, Françoise Sergy opposes their raw violence with fluid movements, infinitely supple and tender. Beyond aesthetics, this is the language of authentic pain, recognised and left behind.” (review, La Presse, Switzerland)

 

On this page, you can view videos, images and information about early and late works. On this other page, you can view images and information about works made in the middle years.

 

 

 

Installations

 

 

In(•)Sight and In(:)Sight

 

Insight 1

ultrasound installations

artist residencies and exhibitions (1998, 1999)

St George's Hospital, London (UK)

Mayday Hospital, Croydon (UK)

 

Between 1997 and 2002 Françoise’s photographic work explored medical imaging, particularly ultrasound, which is routinely used for looking at fetuses in the womb. During a residency at the Fetal Medicine Unit of St George’s Hospital, London, she was able to work with ultrasound scanners and she experimented with scanning different types of objects. She was also invited to take photographs of fetal ultrasound scans, with the agreement of patients. She then made an installation in a scanning room at the Unit, where small toys placed in a fish tank were ready to be scanned. Her next residency took place at the Maternity Unit of Mayday Hospital, Croydon. There she worked with sonographer Fariha Anwar and made a second installation. Separately, she included some of the ultrasound images in her performance work LH Phantom, which can be viewed on this page.

 

“Ultrasound scanners use high frequency sound echoes to map out the inside of the body. They can also scan objects, as long as these are submerged in water. Air stops the sound waves from moving forward, so the secret is to scan materials which do not contain air: anything water based, like the body, or some types of food and most plastics. I tried to scan wood, bread, nuts and stones but they contained too much air. Metal objects also bounced the sound waves back without creating a shape. Glass surfaces were very interesting: the scan of a light bulb seems to show a face, like a phantom peering through. The resulting images were mainly abstract, with the source material unrecognisable or completely transformed."

 

"For the second installation, I concentrated on another idea, that of scanning an adult face. Ultrasound probes are not designed to scan surfaces with bones at close range. Working together with sonographer Fariha Anwar, various methods had to be improvised, usually involving placing my head in a bucket of water. Whilst I was holding my breath, Fariha would explore all possible angles to catch an elusive view of my face. Many images became insect like, with large eye orbits and no personal features but finally a powerful, haunting death mask appeared (see last image below).”

 

 

  • Insight 1
  • Insight 1
  • Insight 1
  • baby's bottle
  • baby's dummy
  • fetal hand
  • fetal head
  • fetal skull
  • lightbulb
  • scanned object
  • scanned object
  • ultrasound portrait
Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

The installation was made for an ultrasound scanning room at the Fetal Medicine Unit of St George's Hospital, London.

Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

A fish tank was placed at the foot of the scanning bed and small toys floated in water, waiting to be scanned.

Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

Close-up of the fish tank. The next images show the scans of some of the toys.

Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

Ultrasound scan of a baby's bottle.

Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

Ultrasound scan of a baby's dummy.

fteal hand

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

Ultrasound scan of a baby's hand in the womb.

Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

Ultrasound scan of a baby's head in the womb.

Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

Ultrasound scan of a baby's skull in the womb.

Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

Ultrasound scan of a lightbulb. A face has appeared, like a phantom peering through.

Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

Ultrasound scan of an unknown object (1).

Insight 1

In(•)Sight ultrasound installation

Ultrasound scan of an unknown object (2).

Insight 2

In(:)Sight ultrasound installation

This image is an ultrasound portrait of the artist, made in collaboration with sonographer Fariha Anwar at Mayday Hospital, Croydon (UK).

 

4 Insights: Seeds

 

stained glass 3

installation featuring ultrasound and other medical imaging

exhibition (2001) and interactive digital animation (2002)

Ferryview Health Centre, Woolwich, London (UK)

commissioned by Valentine Plus PMS

funded by The Regional Arts Lottery Programme

 

These artworks were Françoise’s last projects exploring medical imaging, following the performance works IVF+ACL and LH Phantom (to view them, go to this page) and the above site-specific installations / residencies In(•)Sight and In(:)Sight.

 

In 4 Insights:Seeds, four types of medical imaging were explored: images from keyhole surgery, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound scans and X-rays. Some of the images were of the artist’s own body, taken following a knee injury and during fertility treatment. For the first time, Françoise explored the world of plants, showing the beginning of a new life as an embryo in a seed and a human in the womb. The medical intervention of fertility treatment was quietly, almost secretly displayed - perhaps only noticeable to those who had experienced it. The installation featured photographic stained glass, images under water and a light well. After the exhibition, Françoise made an interactive computer animation of the project, available on CD.

 

 

  • 4 Insights
  • 4 Insights
  • Womb Balls
  • Bits of Knee
  • Facing my Liver
  • looking closely
  • Seeds
  • Light Well
  • stained glass
  • stained glass
  • stained glass 3
  • stained glass
4 Insights

4 Insights: Seeds installation

Photographic stained glass with images created from a hysteroscopy (keyhole surgery which looks inside the uterus).

waiting room

4 Insights: Seeds installation

A view into the health centre's waiting room, through the photographic stained glass window.

womb balls

4 Insights: Seeds - Womb Balls

This image was created from original views of a hysteroscopy (keyhole surgery which looks inside the uterus).

bits of knee

4 Insights: Seeds - Bits of Knee

This image was created from original views of an MRI scan of the knee.

facing my liver

4 Insights: Seeds - Facing my Liver

This image was created from original views taken from a laparoscopy (keyhole surgery of the abdomen). On the left is the internal abdominal wall and in the background is part of the liver.

looking in closely

4 Insights: Seeds installation

Close-up of magnifying glasses.

seeds

4 Insights: Seeds installation

Seeds and fertility drugs.

light well

4 Insights: Seeds installation

A pulsating light well with fetal ultrasound.

stained glass

4 Insights: Seeds installation

Photographic stained glass window. The images come from an MRI scan of the knee.

stained glass

4 Insights: Seeds installation

Photographic stained glass window. The images come from an MRI scan of the knee.

stained glass

4 Insights: Seeds installation

Photographic stained glass window. The image comes from an ultrasound of the human face.

stained glass

4 Insights: Seeds installation

Photographic stained glass window. The images come from an X-ray of the uterus and Fallopian tubes.