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5 pieces by Frans Wesselman
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Hot Chocolate
Quiet Woman
Small Queen
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Frans Wesselman Applied Art
Frans grew up on the outskirts of The Hague, Holland, child of a large family. Having spent his early youth catching sticklebacks, rushing around on bikes with his friends and brothers and scouring the beach for treasure, he developed a liking for visual art. His parents insisting he should do something he could earn a living with, he initially trained to become an art teacher, later, after doing his military service, followed by a few years at art college specializing in photography and printmaking. After a short spell as a teacher at a secondary school, he decided to move to the Republic of Ireland. Apart from having a wonderful time, he developed his printmaking and did a variety of jobs, technician at a local art college being one of them. In 1979 he moved to London where he was first employed as a commercial screen printer, then as a screen printing instructor for unemployed school leavers. He meanwhile continued to develop his printmaking, concentrating on etching, and was elected an associate of the Royal Society of Printmakers in 1982. From then on he started to exhibit more regularly and decided to concentrate on his work in painting and printmaking. In 1986 he moved to Shropshire, the following year he was elected a full member of the Royal Society of Printmakers. For the next four years he demonstrated etching at Art in Action, taught an adult education class in watercolour painting and worked on his paintings and prints, now also inspired by the landscape, livestock and wildlife around him, resulting in a series of colourful bird prints that became very popular. In 1993 he received the Robertson Price for Printmaking, in 1996 he executed a print commission for Shropshire County Council, in 1997 he was involved in a lottery funded painting-and-poetry project at a Telford primary school. From the early nineties on his work became more concerned with people and became more narrative in content. This led to further exhibitions and a spell as a part-time care assistant in a residential home for adults with learning difficulties. In 1998 he was Artist in Residence in the Potteries museum and Art Gallery, in 1999 Printmaker of the Month in the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery. In 2001 he received a commission for a limited edition print from Galerie Inkt, Den Haag, The Netherlands and was awarded the Drawing Prize of the Society of Graphic Artists. In 2000 he started experimenting with stained glass, which soon led to regular exhibitions and commissions, membership of the Worcestershire Guild of Designer Craftsmen and in 2004 a part-time teaching appointment at Hereford College of Art. Throughout his career he has taught short courses in painting, printmaking and stained glass at many levels from primary school to adult education. In 2005 he was elected a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and was awarded a bursary under the Leonardo da Vinci scheme to study stained glass in France for two weeks, working with the De Pirey studio in Mehun-sur-Yevre and visiting Bourges, Chartres and the Musee de Cluny and Sainte Chapelle in Paris. In 2006 a piece of his was selected for the International Festival of Glass in Stourbridge and he was commissioned to etch the glass doors in Church Stretton Methodist Church.
1970-’74 Tilburg Art Teacher College, Netherlands 1975-77 Groningen College of Art, Netherlands
1993 Robertson Prize for Printmaking 2001 Drawing prize Society of Graphic Artists 2005 Leonardo da Vinci award to study stained glass in France
Selected Commissions/collections:
1996 Limited edition print for Shropshire Count Council 2001 Limited edition print for Galerie Inkt, Den Haag, Netherlands 2006 Etched doors for Church Stretton Methodist church
Single Exhibitions:
Bishop’s Gallery, Bishops Castle, 2003 Gateway Arts Centre, Shrewsbury, 1997, 2002 Portico gallery, Manchester, 1999, 2002 Galerie Inkt, The Hague, Holland, 1999 Ombersley Gallery 2004,2002, 2000, 1998, ’96, ’95, ’94, ’93, ’92 Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit, 2003 Twenty Twenty Gallery, Much Wenlock, UK 2005
Group Exhibitions:
Royal West of England Academy, Bristol Galerie Inkt, The Hague, Holland National Print Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London Royal Society of Printmakers, London Catto Gallery, London Bilcliffe Gallery, Glasgow Llewellyn-Alexander Gallery, London Hereford Contemporary Craft Exhibition, 2006,2005,2004, 2003, 2002, 2001 International Festival of Glass, Stourbridge, 2006 RBSA Gallery, Birmingham, 2007,2006,2005,2004
Artist's Statement:
When I was a little boy, my interest in visual art was kindled by my mother pinning illustrations, cut out from magazines, onto the wallpaper. They were done in a kind of Arthur Rackham style, presumably to children’s stories, though I don’t remember the subjects. But they were drawings, graphic art. Ever since drawing has been the basis of all my work. I studied hard to learn to draw well and now I use it daily, to sketch objects, landscapes, animals or people and to design paintings, etchings or stained glass. This dialectic relationship with the visible world, this looking and interpreting, give and take, is enriching in its own right and has obviously fascinated people through the ages. The other point about my mother’s choice was that they were illustrations, they told a story in lines rather than in words, and that too has had a great influence on me. I soon found out that there were artists, like Rembrandt, like Picasso, like Manet, who were more powerful story tellers, but the story telling itself is still for me an important function of visual art. It necessitates thinking through the motives, the lives, the emotions of the characters depicted, which is in itself fascinating. Then one has to decide how these emotions etcetera are best expressed on the artist’s little two-dimentional stage so as to, finally, make the link with the viewer. So that, while sitting all alone in the studio, one is engaged with a whole world of people, animals, plants, weather. After working for many years as a painter and etcher I saw, on a chance visit to Salisbury Cathedral, Gabriel Loire’s beautiful “Prisoners of Conscience” window, which, besides the graphic, story-telling aspects, had the most glorious colours. I decided to try my hand myself at this wonderful medium and have done so ever since. I use my visual and graphic skills to produce work with a narrative, engaging people in intriguing and charming visual stories. I combine modern and cross-cultural subject matter with age-old techniques. I continue to be excited by all aspects of stained glass, love to study old windows but enjoy investigating modern developments just as much.
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