The London-Based Artist Dreaming of Sea-Faring Expeditions

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Frances is wearing a crepe shirt-dress by Joseph, swimsuit by Lido

Frances Wilks’ ultimate fantasy journey is inspired by a 20th-century novel by a Norwegian explorer

“Last summer, a battered copy of The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas caught my eye in the window of a second-hand shop. Written by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl in 1947, it chronicles his 100-day voyage across the Pacific on a tiny balsa-wood raft built by hand from instructions on an ancient diagram. I love Heyerdahl’s descriptions of how he and his crew were living: catching eight-foot-long sharks and flying fish with their bare hands, discovering bizarre insects lurking in their sleeping bags, and growing root vegetables on board. The story inspired me because it sits somewhere between reality and fiction. I fantasise about embarking on a similar journey in a small boat called Rebel, which is moored in the stream in my mum’s back garden. I want to take it around the world to detach myself from everyday life, if only for a short while.”

Frances Wilks is a London-based multidisciplinary artist. An alumnus of Camberwell College of Art, her work spans genres from digital graphic design to painting, and bridges a gap between media that at first glance might appear disparate. With a particular prowess for unearthing unusual found objects as research for her practice, her most recent work has been inspired by a discovery made in her local Oxfam: a photo book on Ferraris of the 1980s. Despite the apparently prosaic gathering together of the materials that inspire her, she is a dreamer who aims “to understand realities that are far removed from my own”.

Hair: Naoki Komiya at Julian Watson. Make-up: Laura Dominique at Streeters using CHANEL Les Indispensables de l’Ete and CHANEL Hydra Beauty Micro Crème. Photographic assistant: Wilbert Lati. Styling assistants: Rebecca Perlmutar and Sunnie Fraser. Hair assistant: Cayla Kim. Special thanks to The Store Studios at 180 Strand.

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