We at Zeum are long-time fans of the undeniably brilliant photog Francesca Allen. Every editorial she produces is a vision: tangible and fresh. We are always surprised at the variety of mood and aesthetic that she can flawlessly achieve in her work, surreal and dream-like one minute & grounded and saccharine the next. Here and now, straight from the pages of Issue 9, is our interview with Allen herself… with the “Saddle up” feature modelled by Jika Edstrom @ Premier, and styled by Emily Beard, with hair and makeup by Jessica Mejia.
ZM the big question: Francesca Jane or Frenchie Jane?
FA I’m twenty-one you see, which equates as being grown up!
ZM Moving has been a big part of your life. Is it true you’re sick of London?
FA I’ve moved house nineteen times in my life; that’s quite a lot, I think. London has been an amazing experience and I still enjoy it no end. I have a great group of friends here and there are so many opportunities for young artists. But the house prices have risen so much that finding affordable rooms to rent is impossible. I’ve been living in sublets for the past year, one of them being a tiny room with a ceiling so low I had to crawl around.
Along with the many other places you’ve lived thus far, one of them has been a cozy houseboat. Can you tell us a bit about it? I moved onto the boat in the middle of January when winter was at its worst. For the first week I couldn’t work the fire. The boat only became cozy after the Winter passed. Spring was lovely and it was a nice place to have friends over. It was all a bit of a novelty though. In reality, I was sleeping on a fold out bed with no toilet, no shower, no electricity and no running water.
So, if you could live anywhere, where would it be? I would choose LA, hands down. I lived there with my family when I was younger and I’ve been wanting to move back ever since. I’m trying to concoct a plan involving an agency giving me a work contract, or even just a sham marriage.
One thing that we’ve really enjoyed following is the documentation of your sister, Alida. What is the personal importance of documenting her growth, especially as she enters her teen years? I don’t know the importance of it yet, I think I’ll find that out when she’s older and we look back and reflect on the pictures. I have a unique access to her life. How many other people are allowed to take nude pictures of fourteen year olds?
Tell us about your upcoming zine GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! In an age where a young artist’s work almost always exists in a virtual world, how important is the act of self-publishing? This will be the first publication I have created and distributed, it features 40 pages of images from my GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!’ series. The zine was designed by my boyfriend, Matt Martin of The Photocopy Club, and published by B-RAD . We chose the images together, He did an edit of the photos and then I would say “but you missed this one!” so we would put it in. It’s just my favourite pictures really. I’m too emotionally attached to things to leave them out. It’s not a good quality to posess. As a photographer you should be able to look at your work objectively, rather than think “god that was a great day.” I’d always been so set on making a book but never had the funds to do so. It’s great to be able to cheaply produce something to put it out there. One day I’ll have a perfect bound editioned series of ‘GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!’ books with pink binding and embossed covers, but until then, this will do perfectly.
What’s next for you? I will be releasing the work I made last year in LA and Mexico. It’s been sitting for over a year so it’s about time I did something with it. Expect a short film and a publication soon!