Exhibition Discovering Diana: “Head Down, Heart Up” to open in Margate

Diana (aged 27) and one of her works from 2012

Margate artist Rachelle Francis will exhibit her late mother’s previously hidden pattern doodles and the new works they have inspired for the first time next month.

The poignant exhibition at the Joseph Wales Gallery in Margate is part of the With & Without Diana works, an Arts Council England funded project raising the profile of her mum Diana’s works and the benefits of creativity for mental health.

With & Without Diana was created following Diana’s death and the uncovering of more than 1,000 of her titled, signed and dated (1972 to 2019) doodled artworks. Diana suffered complex trauma, lifelong mental health conditions and a subsequent fatal addiction.

Repeat pattern doodling provided Diana with sanctuary, escape and self expression, her last doodle was left unfinished three months before she died.

Rachelle and Diana 2007

Offering the opportunity for dialogue around mental health; trauma; grief and addiction, the exhibition explores the power and possibilities of Diana’s artistic doodling and marks the first step in the creation of her legacy.

Rachelle’s personal posthumous artistic conversation with her mother is conveyed in textiles with narrative stitched into cloth as she begins work in response to Diana’s treasured doodles. A journey of grief and love, seeking to reconnect with a mother lost to addiction years before she died.

The unfinished doodle

Works also reveal the travels of Diana’s artworks from the boxes where they once hid to the pages of Mind to Pen, a doodling activity journal and Rachelle and Diana’s first posthumous collaboration. With copies distributed in community workshops, the journal has since generated hundreds of artworks by people aged 7 to 70-plus.

The exhibition is at Joseph Wales Gallery at 2a Dane Hill from November 4-12, open from noon to 5pm.

A private view takes place on November 3, 6pm to 8pm

Find out more about the project

Instagram: @with_and_without_diana Facebook group: With & Without Diana

Mind to Pen is available to buy at the Turner Contemporary, Lovelys and Ramsay and Williams in Margate, or on Instagram via a link in the bio @with_and_without_diana.

With & Without Diana workshops, book and exhibition inspired by story of struggles and intricate doodling

3 Comments

    • I don’t dislike Rochelle’s work, but I otherwise agree. Just think what all this Arts Council money could do to help the NHS, homelessness, schools, roads, and so many other things. Time it was completely scrapped!

  1. I have the pleasure of being involved in one of Rochelle’s groups and what a difference this has made
    An amazing woman and her mother’s art work is so incredibly inspiring she would be so proud of you x

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