Taking her feed to the walls of the Courthouse Youth Arts gallery, Frances Cannon took a night away from her 140,000 plus Instagram followers to do something in real time.
“Your work looks so different in real life than it does in a little square on a screen,” she says. “I love seeing people interact with my work in real life and then I love interacting with those people as well. Putting on shows is one of my favourite things and I’m always really excited when I get offered a show.”
Exhibitions also double as a chance for Frances to build a resume beyond the world of Instagram, and so accepting the request to hold a show in Geelong was an easy one.
“It was one of my least stressful shows because everything went so smoothly,” Frances says of the exhibition. “It went really smoothly, it was really, really easy and lovely. They were really helpful and nice to work with.”
“I didn’t realise I had so many people who were interested in my work in Geelong. So that was really, really nice, I got to meet people who weren’t usually about to make it to the Melbourne shows,” she says.
This time around showcasing not only illustrations but also a collection of poetry in a custom printed book (purchase it here), Frances was challenged in showing another side of herself as an artist and a creative.
“I think [poetry is] something that doesn’t come as naturally for me so it’s a bit more challenging and it’s a lot scarier to share,” she says before adding, “Releasing a poetry book was a really terrifying thing for me because I don’t consider myself a poet. It was just something that helped me through some difficult experiences and I wanted to share that because they may be able to relate to that.”
In a similar vein to the content of her previous work, the poetry is reflective, emotional and human to its very core. Sprouting such lines as “Losing a friend is worse/than losing a lover/you were both”, it’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to Frances’ honesty, particularly in a world where the digital landscape can be a lot less honest.
“There’s a really amazing self love and body positivity community on Instagram, and when you sort through all the ‘thinspo’ and find it, it’s really amazing and there are a lot of people who are making art off issues or just posting photos of themselves in their natural state. I am actively contributing to that,” she says.
While many label Frances as a ‘body love’ artist, her work touches on themes of mental health, sexuality and life in general. “My work talks about being a human,” she adds on the matter.
Being so honest with her own challenges has made Frances somewhat of a guru to many going through similar problems and for the select few she has become a target of their negativity. It is true there are two sides when it comes to the digital world, but without Instagram Frances wouldn’t be able to live life as an artist full time.
“What I was going to do before all this happened was study art and do a diploma of teaching, and that’s something I still consider. But it doesn’t need to happen [right now],” she says.
“[In my] third year in honours, my Instagram started to do really well. So by the time I finished uni I just hopped right into doing art full time – which I know is not normal. It’s amazing and I’m very, very lucky.”
Living day-to-day drawing, painting and now writing, Frances simply enjoys being fulfilled through her work and seeing the ways in which her content helps others. I Hope You’re Having Trouble Sleeping is simply that. Created across three months while Frances was coping with a break up, it’s proof that something beautiful can come from something painful.
“I want people to be able to see that you can move forward and it’s not the end of the world. Even though it’s a really painful experience you do grow from it, because from experience I did. It’s such a normal and human thing, if people are going through something like that then they’re not alone so it’s okay to feel those feelings and eventually those feelings will go away,” she says.
“Channel your emotions into something and that will help so much, whether that be music, art, photography or gardening, channelling your emotions into something you’ll be the better of it. Being creative can teach you things and you get to make something beautiful as well.”
Frances’ exhibition I Hope You’re Having Trouble Sleeping is on until February 16.
CHYA is hosting a meet and great, poetry reading on Saturday, February 10 from 1-3pm. RSVPs are required, head here for more information.