St Albans’ Abbey Theatre welcomes first Artist in Residence

Emma Franc and her work

Emma Franc and her work - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Abbey Theatre could be laid bare with the appointment of its first Artist in Residence, Emma Franc.

Emma Franc and her work

Emma Franc and her work - Credit: Archant

She approached the theatre a few months ago, with the hope that they would allow her access to draw inspiration for a series of paintings.

Amd after meeting with Lin Johnson, who is in charge of marketing for the theatre, a year-long project with Emma as Artist in Residence was agreed.

Emma, who went to Loreto College in St Albans before studying at the Wimbledon School of Art, known for its links with the theatre, explained: “Having had some time away from painting, since having my son, I really wanted something that I could get my teeth into, and provide a focus for my paintings.

“I am drawn to the atmosphere and energy of the theatre. I love not only the lighting and aesthetics of the stage, but also the energy and wealth of characters that you find there. It is a rich source of inspiration.”

“I am particularly interested in taking images from behind the scenes in rehearsals, and exploring the wardrobe and props stores. The props mistress, Judith Goodban, showed me her fantastic Aladdin’s cave. I spent a long time looking through the tightly packed shelves. Every item seemed to have a story. I took some pieces onto the empty stage and took photographs, which I am using for a series of paintings.”

Emma has exhibited widely, and has been shortlisted for several prestigious prizes, leading to showings at Christie’s and the Mall Gallery in London.

Most Read

She has now returned to her roots and lives in St Albans with her husband and young son. The work she produces during the residency will be exhibited at the theatre in September as part of the Herts Open Studios event.

Chairman Martin Goodman commented, “I believe this venture will contribute to our long term aim to be a focal point for a wide range of cultural activities within St. Albans.”

Emma’s work can be seen online here.