Frances Vesma

Book With No Words - The Artist

Christened Frances Mary Harcourt Dudley Hawkins

Moved twenty six times by the age of twenty-seven, I have listed them because many of the locations were very dramatic and beautiful and have left strong fleeting impressions.

Born Lickey Hill (Warwickshire) 1950, moved to Pennybonte (Radnorshire), Gladestry (Radnorshire), Edvin Ralph (Herefordshire), Clifton on Theme (Worcestershire), Great Whitely (Worcestershire), Mathon (Herefordshire), Malvern Wells (Worcestershire), Queenhill (Worcestershire), Back to Malvern, had three more addresses in Malvern. Harbourn, Upper Welland (Worcestershire), Powick (Worcestershire), Birmingham, Diglis Basin (Worcester), Brownshill (Cotswolds), Two more Malverns, Acton Beauchamp (Worcestershire), Ayelsbere (Devon), Ross-on-Wye (Herefordshire), Haresfield (Cotswolds), Dymock (Gloucestershire), Newent (Gloucestershire).

On average one move a year.

Married to Neil Vesma RIBA, one son Daniel Vesma. Family home in Newent, Gloucestershire for twenty years, amicably separated and divorced 2004. One daughter in law Natasha and grandson Corbu.

The middle one of three girls, Leslie, Frances and Harriet, but as my Mother had wanted three boys we were called Les, Frank and Harry.

She was a Girl Guide captain and liked polishing badges.

We were encouraged to wear boy’s clothes, femininity was frowned upon.

My sisters were always top of the class, I had the disadvantage of being very feminine, a middle child and having a severe undiagnosed learning difficulty, which was a very limited working memory, coupled with a very high IQ which only served to make me acutely aware of my mistakes.

The constant moving schools gave me a built in excuse for not knowing what was going on.

My Mother’s response to my mistakes was good old fifties violence. Spare the rod and spoil the child. In those days multiple shaking of a child, and savage blows to the face and head was considered a reasonable treatment, the possible brain damage not an issue.

I suppose I would consider myself an outsider artist, because I have little or no formal education or training. As a young adult I enrolled on a sculpture course taught by Guy Woodford, a brilliant teacher, and one of the founder members of the ecology party, now green party. Astonishingly he seemed to me very impressed with my work, and used one of my pieces as demonstration to his class. Now in his seventies he continues to teach at Malvern Hills College.

I have to acknowledge the unquestioning and generously given help and support of Neil and am amazed that he put up with my obsessive splurge of work which at times filled most of our house. A full sized tree and sheep made out of newspaper in the bedroom. He deserves more salutation than the life sized plaster sculpture of himself saluting the sun in white nakedness left rotting in an orchard amongst the goats and chickens somewhere in Devon.

My work is emotionally driven; I have worked in many materials in both two and three dimensions. And worked as small as a porcelain head for a doll factory to a full room installation for Veronica Gosling’s Barn Gallery. Although I brag in a seemingly blatant way I am still haunted by the idea that someone will accuse me of being an impostor.

Bob and Veronica Gosling were very encouraging, and Veronica made damn sure that I exhibited regularly in the beautiful surroundings of their Barn Gallery at May Hill. She began life as a journalist, and preserved that art of persuasion. Once when the local TV cameraman arrived without the reporter, she stepped in to do the interview and asked me difficult questions like "what poor peacock did you plunder all these feathers from?" I felt like part of a Hinge and Bracket sketch. Veronica’s work was refreshingly crazy and light hearted, at times I would laugh out loud. It was Bob a retired psychiatrist sadly no longer with us, who first pointed out that I was dysphasic.