If you’ve lived or spent any extended period of time in the city of Sheffield, Florence Blanchard is an artist that you’ll be aware of, whether you know her name yet or not.  

All over the place you’ll find her vibrant medleys of colour and shape, adorning the facades of pubs, galleries and car parks. The way these pieces seem to blend with, and become a part of, their setting, almost to the point where you have to remind yourself that they’re there, is a testimony to her creative vision and artistic ability. 

You began your creative career as a graffiti artist. How did that influence the way you approach your work today, if at all? 

I learned how to paint through graffiti as a teenager. It taught me how to take my ideas and make them into a real thing with a limited amount of time and resources. I still paint murals and my style is an abstracted version of what I was doing as a graffiti writer.

You have also worked previously as a scientist, which is perhaps unusual for an artist. Do you think there are more links between the worlds of art and science than is typically assumed? 

Making art is very similar to experimental science. You start from a concept you want to explore and try to refine a technique until you get a satisfying result. 

All the work I’ve done as a scientist had a strong visual approach, with the use of very powerful microscopes to study various biological mechanisms. For a bit I studied visual processing at the University Of Sheffield, so you could say these different phases of my life are strongly related.

Many of our readers, living in and around Sheffield, will have seen a lot of your mural work already. Is Sheffield a good backdrop for your very particular aesthetic?

I love Sheffield. To live here as an artist, it’s perfect. It’s affordable and easy. Although the weather makes it challenging for painting outdoors murals, the grey sky is a great backdrop for colourful, abstract works.

Colour obviously plays a huge part in your work. How do you choose your palette for each piece and are there certain colours you find yourself drawn to more than others? 

I spend days looking for the right colour combination. Colour is everything in my designs and the shapes are just an excuse to experiment with colour combinations. 

I can work with any colour really and l love the challenge of finding the right combination.

What’s next for you? Anything we should be looking out for soon? 

I’m currently working on a big mural on Twinkl Way [off Ecclesall Road]. It’s probably the biggest mural I ever painted in Sheffield, if not the longest. It should be finished by the end of October, so fingers crossed for no more rain!

florenceblanchard.com

Liam Casey