Frances Priest’s current work explores and interprets languages of ornament from different cultures, places and periods in history. The work is heavily influenced by a book she grew up with, The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones, first published in 1856. As a child, Frances read this book from cover to cover, and so began her love of pattern. In her late twenties, Frances spent a period travelling abroad, she started to take photographs and make drawings of patterns she observed, from the arrangement of tiles on a temple roof to the embriodered silks on market stalls. She was intrigued by the decorative language that covered the surfaces of all the buildings she saw, the different flora and fauna she experienced and this gave her the direction for her current work in clay.
From her Edinburgh studio Frances creates intricate and colourful ceramic objects that celebrate this fascination for ornament and pattern, using clay as a canvas on which to build richly drawn and layered surfaces of inlaid line, glaze colour and enamel decals. The results are intricate and beautiful.
Beyond the studio Frances develops projects and commissions that respond to people and places, using her interests as a platform from which to engage with new environments. This approach has lead to work in varied and sometimes unexpected settings, from an English Tudor banqueting room in Sheffield, to a tiled corridor for The Royal Edinburgh Hospital, an NHS hospital specialising in mental health, to a country home on the Scottish Island of Raasay.
Frances’ work has been acquired by a number of museums including the National Museums of Scotland Edinburgh, The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, The Victoria & Albert Museum London, The International Museum of Ceramics Faenza, Italy and The International Museum of Contemporary Ceramics Ichon Province, Korea.
In 2018, Frances’ work was selected by the Michaelangelo Foundation for Homo Faber in Venice. The work was included in the Best of Europe exhibit where hundreds of exceptional works were showcased created by some 150 artist-artisans from all over Europe.
Frances obtained a 1st Class BA Hons and her PG Diploma in Ceramics from Edinburgh College of Art in June 1998/9.