Artist As Instigator 1950’s – 2004

Between the late ‘50s and early ’60’s Francis Carr worked in collaboration with Dorothy Carr exploring different ways in which to apply and integrate their artwork. They worked together commercially, combining their joint knowledge of screen printing onto surface textures of everyday objects, with the intention ‘to elevate them above the mundane’. This collaboration launched both artists onto their respective paths, they remained life long creative associates.

‘We are Artists who can offer you a complete design service in: concrete, tiles, mosiacs, vitreous enamel, screen printed fabrics and wallpapers’. Francis and Dorothy Carr

In 1959 The Woodstock Gallery in London’s West End, hosted an exhibition of their ‘experiments.

During this time, Francis became increasingly interested in the properties of differed industrial materials, and their creative application to the built environment. He forged links with, amongst others: the Concrete Association, Vitrious Enamel Development Council, Kendall’s stone and Paving Co. and National Enamels. He received both private and commercial commissions to produced decorative surface treatments and reliefs. Commissioners included: Ind Coop Brewery, Exeter Generating Station, Stevenage School and an elaborate interior door for a private home in Hampstead. Between 1965 – ’69  he was appointed Design Consultant for the GLC, Dept. Housing Devision where he applied his philosophy and techniques with the intention of ‘uplifting’ the built environment, this included exploring the mosaic-like quality and decorative use of of the common brick.

Kastone catalogue cover

‘One of the most welcome signs of present day architecture is increasing trend towards colour and texture in building exteriors.As part of the movement in this direction precast concrete panels have been designed by Dorothy and Francis Carr Artists and Designers. Known as ‘Kastone’ the panels make the ideal decorative finish, used individually or to cover large areas, they may also be reversed, placed horizontally or vertically and be alternated with plane panels. At the moment three designs are available. They are Circuit, Collage, Erosion. The modular decorative relief panels are available in the following materials. A: Ordinary black and white concrete. B. exposed aggregate, caste stone, coloured Mineralite’. Kendell’s Stone & Paving Company catalogue. Below: Ind Coope Bottling Hall.

An Integrated Approach

Francis campaigned for artists to be in at the beginning of architectural planning. In 1967 backed by The Arts Council he organised Artists and Architecture exhibition at The Building Design Centre, opened by the Minister of Works, Robert Mellish, it brought together photographs, maquettes and designs by international artists, featuring an original Picasso maquette, and contributions from Edward Bawden, Humphrey Spender, Joe Tilson, Theo Crosby and Victor Pasmore amongst others.

Arts and Architecture exhibition, stated aim was to create ‘…a comprehensive assessment of the development and understanding between artist and architect, especially the relationship towards new materials and their application to structures’. Francis Carr 1967

Artists and Architecture exhibition, The Building Centre, London, 1967, sponsored by the Arts Council of Great Britain,

New Networks

Following the exhibitions success he established the New Organisation  uniting artists and other professionals. The New Organisation’s integrated approach developed into an environmental pressure group, which anticipated the current awareness around green issues. Between 1968 – 74 Francis and the New Organisation published a quarterly bulletin, edited the Integral Environment and Interior Design quarterly supplement and  organised A Better Place to Live, Round House, Camden Town 1971,  and the Urban Cinema Festival at the National Film Theatre, London 1972. Francis toured to Copenhagen and France, promoting the ideas of the New Organisation.

Throughout his life he continued to building forums in which people could connect. Most notably in 1993, with a growing concern about the environment, he founded the Landscape and Arts Network (LAN) and was chairman 1993 – 2004 and Honorary Life President, it still flourishes today. Under Francis’s chairmanship LAN produced bulletins, newsletters, ran symposiums, talk, exhibitions and forged links with other national and international networks, including the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.


Cosmic Peace Park ,model made by daughter Andrea Carr


Old Beliefs In a New Age

Extract: Landscape Design Extra 1993, the relationship between landscape, architecture and the New Age movement by Francis Carr.

‘The belief in the power of science to provide answers to the global crisis has been challenged. An alternative, holistic viewpoint has emerged taking an interest in orthodoxy, therapy, religions of the East, the care of self  and the role of the feminine in life.The world view of this ‘alternative movement’, has been labeled New Age Consciousness..Perhaps the most fundamental thinking of New Age is that we are the stewards of the earth and all its creatures…. Landscape design belongs at its very best to the visual arts and is deeply involved in changes to society’s attitudes and beliefs. The sensibilities of the designer orchestrates trees, flowers, grass, water, rocks and stones, the canvass of the sky and rhythm of the seasons. As an intuitive response to our rational, market-oriented dualistic society, some designers are seeking to rediscover a deeper symbolic reality. The 21st Century task of Landscape design is to be a shamanic healer, and together with the best in the arts and sciences, to re-establish the balance between man and nature.  My own experience on the Kazakhstan border has been similar.’

Opposite: Gate Of Death at the end of  Tree Of Life Maze earthwork, Kazakhstan, ’90.


Ecological Land Reclamation 

As an advocate of environmentally conscious art he moved away from using man-made to organic materials. He was a consultant on several landscaping projects including Gillespie Park Earth Mound View Point  Islington ’97, Gunpowder Park, and created a number of earthworks, most notably:  Port Talbot, Commemorative Area and IInternational Sundial and Tree Of Life Maze ’90’s.

Gunpowder Park

Between 1999 – 2003 Francis was one of the consultants and an Artist in Residence for the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, Waltham Abbey Essex. He worked during the conceptual stage and re-generation period of the project, helping to transform a former Royal Ordnance munitions testing facility into a vibrant green space. His proposal Cosmic Peace Park informed the scheme. In the final instance a different concept was taken forward that of a ‘blast point spiralling into the park’ as a nod to its former incarnation. Award winning Gunpowder Park opened in 2004 for the benefit of people, wildlife and the arts. The project also involved LAN members in different creative capacities.