Born in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, in 1962, Mark Francis studied at St Martin’s School of Art (1980-1985), and the Chelsea School of Art (1985-86). His early paintings were ostensibly abstract, but suggested textures, apertures, organic materials and growths, which acknowledged insights provided by technologies used in exploring natural history such as engraving, photography and spectrum microscopy. He has been an avid collector of historical scientific imagery, encompassing a range from astronomy, human, animal and insect anatomy, plant life to some of the sciences associated with these, such as medicine and neurology. These sources have given rise to imagery resembling neural connections, bacterial reproduction, fungal filaments, the texture of fibres, and more. In some works the geometry is strictly delineated, in others he appears to welcome randomness or seemingly overt chaos.
Francis is strongly influenced by natural history, medicine, taxonomy and animal and plant life as conceptual sources for making work. His graphic oeuvre began with experiments in monotype in the early 1990s, but since 2004 he has produced editions of etchings and lithographs, whose imagery is closely aligned with his explorations in paint.
Francis has exhibited at Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Dublin, Ireland (2008), Abbot Hall Art Gallery (2010), Glen Dimplex Irish Museum of Modern Art, Milton Keynes Gallery, (2000), City Art Gallery, Manchester, Saatchi Collection, London in the notorious exhibition Sensation (1997) and The Royal Academy, London. His work can be found in collections including Tate Gallery, Deutsche Bank, Southampton City Art Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, London British Council, Ulster Museum, Arts Council England and at Dirimart, Istanbul (2014).