Case Studies: Frances Rocca

Frances Rocca is a Sale-based visual artist and winner of the Best In Trafford Award at the 2012 Waterside Open for her pieces Australis and Borealis. CIT caught up with her for a chat.

Could you describe your work in the Open?

Australis and Borealis are panoramic photographs of a piece made up of test tubes filled with hair gel, which are laid onto electro-luminescent wires, and the whole arrangement is then set against mirrors.

The whole piece took eight months to put together, including time for research and development.

What led you to become an artist?

I’ve always been interested in art and mathematics. I studied both subjects before choosing art as my vocation.

I didn’t want a desk job and realised that if I did a degree in maths, I’d miss doing art. I still really enjoy the puzzle side of maths, especially algebra.

Your work focuses on working up from small to larger scales, is that inspired by your interest in science?

Maths does play a part in the way I work, as it’s quite logical and structured, and each piece is usually arrived at after a lot of experimentation. I always enjoyed science, but it never occurred to me to use interests as an influence my artwork.

My style really evolved at university. My work in the first year is completely different to that produced in my final year, but I feel I’ve now set on an area that I really want to focus upon.

Why are you based in Trafford?

It works for me as a base. There is an expectation that you have to go to a big city for things to happen, but Manchester is nearby and Waterside is on my door step. It shows that you can keep it local. Communities have an important role – I enjoy the sense of community you get from being local and working together with people.

Is there a creative community that you feel part of in the area?

More so than I thought there would be. I was part of a group at the Gallery of Costume (for a recent exhibition called The Age of Elegance). I also helped out at on the Noise Festival over the summer in 2011. You maybe need to look a bit harder to find out what’s going on, but there’s usually something I find inspiring.

Has winning the Best in Trafford award helped your career?

Hopefully it will help with future applications for exhibitions and funding. There has been support and congratulations from friends, colleagues and family of course, but this is the biggest award at my career so far.

What are you working on next?

Following on from The Age of Elegance, which was part of a project that involved a research trip to India, I’ll be working on a project that will bring overseas artists to north west galleries later in 2012.

I’ll also be involved in 2013’s Open Group exhibition featuring the winners of the 2012 Open awards.

I’m about to start making new work, and may be working with electro-luminescent wire again. I also want to research new technologies and experiment with new concepts. I’d like to explore a software platform called Arduino – to create light sequences and environments, perhaps derived from equations. Science remains an inspiration and technology would be a means of creating new pieces.

For more on Frances’ work, see her website.