Mari French RI is an abstract mixed media painter with a particular interest in the liminal landscapes of coastline, salt marsh and moorland, plus a passion for abstract florals. Confident use of layering and markmaking create a rich surface history in her artworks, while a limited palette gives them harmony and coherence, resulting in work that stands alone but still owes a debt to its subject.
French was born in Manchester in 1957, where she studied Art and Design, followed by a 20 year career in graphic design. She spent 15 years on the Isle of Skye, developing her abstract landscapes. She now lives in Norfolk, working as a full-time artist, from her studio on a former 1930s RAF airbase. Her design background often emerges in her work through effective colour combinations, strong composition and use of typography.
French has exhibited widely in both group and solo shows. Her work has been regularly selected for the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) at the Mall Galleries, London, 2016-2022; She exhibited in the Royal Watercolour Society’s ‘Contemporary Watercolours’ show at Bankside Gallery, London, 2018, 2019; was a finalist in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2014, and finalist in Artist & Illustrator Magazine Artist of the Year in 2016. Her work is held in private collections worldwide.
In 2022 Mari French was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI).
SELECTED EXHIBITING HISTORY:
Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Mall Galleries, 2016-2022.
Gallery Different, London, ‘Synergy II’ group show (with Sheridan Russell), 2022.
Sheridan Russell Gallery, UK art fairs, 2014-2022.
Little Buckland Gallery, Broadway, Cotswolds, group exhibitions, 2021-2022.
Gallery East, Woodbridge, Suffolk, duo & group exhibitions, 2019-2021.
Royal Watercolour Society ‘Contemporary Watercolours’, Bankside Gallery, 2018, 2019.
Babylon Arts, Ely, Cambridgeshire, group exhibition, ‘No Frost at Night’, 2021.
Grapevine Contemporary, Burnham Market, Norfolk, solo/group exhibitions, 2009-2022.
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, mixed exhibition, 2015.
Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition, Finalist, Mall Galleries, 2014.
Highgate Contemporary, London, ‘Inside Out’, duo exhibition, 2012.
Inchmore Gallery, Inverness, solo & group exhibitions, 2006, 2007.
An Tuireann Art Gallery, Isle of Skye, group exhibition, 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.
I enjoy looking at your work, Mari, particularly your abstractions of the Norfolk saltmarshes, which I used to visit regularly. Do you have any plans to publish your work as a book?
Hi Glenis, I’m so pleased you enjoy my work and that you can relate to the saltmarsh works. I’ve actually been in discussions with someone who works in publishing and is interested in out producing a series of small books (‘Zines) on my work. Each would be on a theme and I feel Saltmarshes will be one of them. I’m excited about the project but as we’re both very busy this spring it may be a little while before it gets underway. If you subscribe to my studio newsletter or follow my social media you’ll be kept up-to-date on proceedings. Thanks for your interest.
love your earthy colours. great artistic impact and engagement!
thanks for the positive feedback and for following my blog. Your comments are very helpful and appreciated 🙂
PS hope that’s not a daft question, just very interested in the visual journeys you must have been on!! 🙂
You have lived and worked in some very interesting Places Mari, have you had to changed your work to reflect this?
I have Nigel, and no it’s not a daft question 😉
my life as a serious artist took off when I lived on Skye, so much inspiration, you can imagine!
the move to Norfolk was challenging from the inspiration side of things. though we both love living here, it’s taken a couple of years to find my new passion – the saltmarsh coast; it has a bleak beauty and grandeur all of its own. Norfolk is also well placed for exploring other areas of UK and Europe, so I can see upcoming bodies of work inspired by the North York Moors and Venice.
Thanks I knew you had lots of new work from your wonderful paintings on this blog but its that exact transition I was wondering about.
When I moved to Ireland I had to change a lot of my own visual interests and this took time like yourself. I love your Salt march images Mari and I can see how you can and will dig very deep into these areas as a source for your work.
I am just starting to look at the peat bogs as I love the work of this artist http://www.pastelsocietyofireland.org/#/sam-mateer/4568792497
I may even get painting and drawing again!
Thank you Mari
I can imagine the peat bogs of Ireland would be an interesting source of inspiration, Neil. Those pastel images remind me very much of parts of Skye and the Uists. My mum was from Northern Ireland, though her family originated in Co Clare, so you never know, I may end up painting over there one day 🙂
Thanks for the interesting feedback and chat!
🙂 Thanks Mari
Delicious work! To use that nasty but effective modern term ‘awesome’!
Thanks Sue! : )