Mari French RI is an abstract mixed media artist with a particular interest in the liminal landscapes of coastline, salt marsh and moorland, and a passion for abstract florals. Her work reflects her experience of landscape through confident layering and eroding of media and the use of energetic mark making; creating a rich surface history with an emphasis on space and light. A limited palette gives harmony and coherence, resulting in work that stands alone but still owes a debt to its subject. Her design background often emerges in her artworks through effective colour combinations, strong composition and use of typography.
“I sketch on location to fix impressions of a place in my mind, but rather than referring to my sketches/photographs once back at the studio, I rely on those impressions to emerge intuitively in the work and taking advantage of accidental effects and imagery as they arise. Standing before a fresh support, a brush loaded with paint or ink, ready to execute the first bold gestures is incredibly exciting and liberating. While working I pace back and forth in front of the easel, often listening to music, rarely standing still. It’s a whole body experience and I work pretty fast in those early stages.”
Mari French was born in Manchester in 1957. Always interested in art, she studied Art and Design at Stockport College as a mature student, followed by a 20 year career in graphic design. In 1995 she moved to the Isle of Skye where she lived for 15 years developing and exhibiting her increasingly abstract landscapes. She now lives in Norfolk, working as a full-time artist, from her studio on a former 1930s RAF airbase.
Mari has exhibited widely in both group and solo shows. Her work has been annually selected for the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) at the Mall Galleries, London, since 2016, and in 2022 she was elected an RI member. She was a finalist in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2014, and a finalist in Artist & Illustrator Magazine ‘Artist of the Year’ 2016, both at the Mall Galleries. Her work is held in private collections worldwide.
SELECTED EXHIBITING HISTORY:
Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Mall Galleries, 2016-2023.
The Bircham Gallery, Holt, North Norfolk, ‘New Faces’ and Summer Exhibition, 2023.
Little Buckland Gallery, Broadway, Worcestershire, group exhibitions, 2021-2022.
Gallery East, Woodbridge, Suffolk, duo & group exhibitions, 2019-2022.
Babylon Arts, Ely, Cambridgeshire, ‘No Frost at Night’, commissioned group exhibition, 2021.
Royal Watercolour Society, Contemporary Watercolours, Bankside Gallery, 2018/2019.
Grapevine Contemporary, Burnham Market, Norfolk, solo & group exhibitions, 2009-2019.
Gallery Different, London, group exhibition (with Sheridan Russell), 2018.
Sheridan Russell Gallery, Fresh and Affordable Art Fairs, 2014-2017.
Cricket Fine Art, Summer exhibition, Chelsea, London, 2017.
Thompsons Gallery, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, mixed exhibitions, 2013-2017.
Artists & Illustrators Artist of the Year, Finalist, Mall Galleries, 2016.
Cley Contemporary 16, North Norfolk Exhibition Project, 2016.
The Sutton Gallery, Edinburgh, group exhibition, 2015.
Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition, finalist, Mall Galleries, 2014.
Highgate Contemporary, London, 'Inside Out', joint exhibition, 2012.
Greyfriars Art Space, King’s Lynn, solo exhibitions, 2012-2014.
Inchmore Gallery, Inverness, solo & group exhibitions, 2006/2007.
An Tuireann Art Gallery, Isle of Skye, group exhibitions, 2005/2006.
SELECTED PRESS & PUBLICATIONS:
EAVA zine ‘Pilgrimages’, @eavazine, June 2021.
Artists and Illustrators magazine, Fresh Paint feature, September 2020.
‘The Woven Tale Press' Literature & Fine Art Magazine, featured artist, October, 2019.
'Painting clouds and skies in oils', guest artist, Mo Teeuw, Crowood Press 2017.
The Artist Magazine, featured artist, July 2016.
'Blyth Spirit', Alan Marshall, Mascot Media 2014.
KL magazine, featured artist, 2014.
'How artists see East Anglian Places', Green Pebble 2010.