“I really like the idea that the viewer becomes one element of the painting just by standing in front of it.”
Born in Montpellier, France in 1977, Florence Blanchard is a Sheffield-based painter, muralist and screenprinter.
One of the first female graffiti artists in France, Blanchard began creating artwork in the early 1990s under the moniker ‘Ema’. She spent ten years based in New York where she graduated with a PhD in Molecular Genetics from New York University in 2008.
In the years that followed, Blanchard began translating her studies into large-scale public murals, combining her work as a street artist with her discoveries as a scientist.
“I spent many years looking at the structure of various living things through powerful microscope lenses. This has permanently affected the way I see the world.” Florence Blanchard
Blanchard’s strong interest in neuroscience and cellular imaging is intrinsic to her practice as an artist. Her precise and graphic paintings take the very threads of nature, the unique cells invisible to the naked eye, and scale them up into myriads of bold colour and shape to blanket and transform urban landscapes.
“Taking advantage of the versatility of fluid molecular patterns, my work conducts visual studies on the fluidity and structure of our surroundings — the unfamiliarities of which aim to confront viewers with startling and insightful windows into the fabric of the universe.”
Known internationally for transforming city spaces with her signature amorphous style, Blanchard’s work is exhibited in galleries and public spaces in the US, Japan, Europe, Australia and the UK. In 2019 the artist was commissioned through ‘City of Ideas’ to transform an area of 1000 sqm into ‘BOUNCE’ – a permanent, vibrant and playful focal point in the Cultural Industries Quarter, Sheffield. Other notable murals can be viewed in Betsukai and Kodama, Japan, and at the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Tasmania, Australia.
Blanchard features in Infinite Nature: the UK Edition, exhibiting a series of paintings and prints that relate directly to public commissions she has undertaken, celebrating the relationship of art, science and the urban landscape.
The artist now lives and works in Sheffield, UK.
Photograph courtesy of Helena Dolby via the artist.
Florence Blanchard talks to Now Then Magazine