Liverpool LASER Talks: The Collective Phenomena of Fanchon Fröhlich

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18:00 - 20:00

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Liverpool LASER is part of the worldwide series of Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) Talks sponsored by Leonardo, the International Society for Art, Sciences and Technology, which brings artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversations on art, science and technology. Join us on the 18th November at Liverpool School of Art and Design for a series of talks about the life and art-science collaborations of Fanchon Fröhlich.

Fanchon Fröhlich – born Audrey Fanchon Aungst, in Iowa in 1927, lived in England from 1949 (until her death in 2016) after graduating in The Philosophy of Science from the University of Chicago. Following post-graduate courses in Philosophy at Oxford University and in Fine Art at the Liverpool College of Art, she worked with internationally renowned post-war British abstract expressionist artists and printmakers, such as Peter Lanyon in St Ives in the 1950s and William Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris in the 1960s. Lanyon and Hayter were perhaps the two greatest influences on the expansive, gestural, sweeping qualities in her work, which can be found in the permanent collections at The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and The Bowes Museum in Northumberland.

Fanchon’s husband was Herbert Fröhlich, the internationally renowned Theoretical Physicist. For decades Fanchon and Herbert were at the heart of Liverpool’s own Bloomsbury Group’ and played host to a long list of distinguished scientists, artists, writers, composers, and assorted polymaths at their rambling home. Guests were the Nobel Prize winner, Erwin Schrodinger, and the renowned American physicist, Richard Feynman. John Cage made recordings of his discussions with Fanchon during his visits to Liverpool, and Beryl Bainbridge, the novelist, was a lifelong friend and frequent visitor; the roll call is impressive.

In 1992, a chance meeting with Terry Duffy, who already had links with John Cage, helped crystalise Fanchon’s ideas on what was to become the ‘Collective Phenomena’, which became a series of ‘happenings’ involving two or three female artists, collectively painting on large horizontal canvases, accompanied by improvised keyboard-playing by the internationally renowned composer, Lawrence Ball.

For two decades, Fanchon was Collective Phenomena’s creative driving force, which was informed by her deep understanding of the unconscious mind and its potential to change the world. This was a fitting last act to a lifetime of making art, the embodiment of a remarkable woman and a remarkable life. Fanchon is a formidable artist and intellectual that could inspire a new generation. At her death, Fanchon’s legacy is a large collection of socially, academically, and scientifically important artworks, letters, journals, and papers, which has been acquired by British Art and Design Association (


Speakers include internationally renowned artist, Terry DuffyDr. Gerard Hyland, a retired theoretical physicist and a close friend of Fanchon and Herbert Fröhlich, and Richard Bright, editor of Interalia Magazine.

In addition to talks from each speaker, followed by a panel discussion, there will be the launch of a new 3D digital portrait of Fanchon Fröhlich created by Face Lab LJMU.

  • 18.00-18.15 Welcome
  • 18.15-19.00 Conversation
  • 19.00-19.15 Q&A
  • 19.15-20.00 3D Digital Artwork Launch
  • 20.00 Goodbye

The event will be recorded for anyone who is interested but unable to attend, to watch on the LJMU YouTube channel

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Liverpool LASER is hosted by Professor Caroline Wilkinson, Director Liverpool School of Art and Design, and Mark Roughley, MA Art in Science Programme Leader. The LASER is supported by the MA Art in Science programme, which aims to bring artists and scientists together to explore collaborative approaches in art-science research and practice.