A self-taught interdisciplinary artist, Willey is a traditional film photographer, piano composer, songwriter and poet. They are inspired by nature, dreams, and empathetic communications with a wide variety of people At the age of 12, they received a KODAK camera from their mother June. The first frame ever captured by its' aperture was a portrait of her.
Willey believes that a more compassionate culture can be created through the arts. A desire to enrich their own knowledge and experience prompted extended travels to the regions of the Himalayas and through south-east Asia, with sojourns in monasteries and the homes of local families. These were formative times for the artist, and are reflected in the greater complexity and diversity of images in works created during the 1990s.
In February 2011 they lost a tremendous amount to a tragic house fire that destroyed his home and their art, and most of the photographic negatives. The flames took 35mm film cameras, darkroom, drawings, and their worldly possessions. Some of the images in the following galleries are what remain.
Francis A. Willey acknowledges that they live, work and play on the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in southern Alberta, which includes the Niitsitapi/Blackfoot Confederacy: the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nation, the Tsuut'ina First Nation, and the Iyarhe/Stoney Nakoda: the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations. The City of Calgary is also home to the Metis Nation of Alberta, Region III.
Francis Willey is proud of their maternal Cree ancestors, Non-Status, Francis A. Willey’s bloodline is Scottish, French Canadian, Cree and Cheyenne and is proud of his First Nations ancestors on his mother's side through a rich oral history and respects the history, languages, and cultures of the First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples of Canada, and their continuing creative presence in our country.
Francis Willey creates work using 35mm cameras, film, traditional darkroom processes, ink, paint, musical instruments, new technologies and their voice to develop a unique practice and a body of work that is a reflection of the beauty, joy and strife in the world around them.
Francis Willey believes that a more compassionate culture can be created through the arts and activity inspires, supports, and participates in the local artist community through consistent mentorship, documentation, and building meaningful relationships to help elevate the arts.
P H O T O G R A P H Y
“Francis is one of my favourite contemporary photographers. His lovely, ethereal, but also very real images show us the magic and mystery that can be found in our modern world. We just need to know where to look.” Dr.Theodora Goss(Senior Lecturer at Boston University. MFA/Ph.D. Boston University.)
"Francis Willey is a true artist; the strength of vision he brings to his work is rarely seen in contemporary photography. Through both his art and his interactions, Francis shines a light into an often dark and unforgiving world."-
Sienna Hayes(Model and Aerialist)
"Francis places the poetry into the photography"- Paul Kelly (Director)
"It's truly beautiful and legitimizes photography as an art. With all the trashy "fashion photography" floating around and unexciting commercial stuff that I do on a regular basis for magazines and print, I've forgotten why I even like to be photographed at all. Your work has just reminded me that it's because once in a great while there's a chance to be part of the creation of an image like yours, where a woman's body or face can be sexy in a softer, subtle way rather than so harshly presented as an object. So thanks."
(Actress and Writer)
“I have no words, upon seeing blindness”
Alexander McQueen (Fashion Designer)
“I like how your head works”
Douglas Kirkland (Photographer)
"Francis, I might not know from where the cold wind blows, but I know what I like and I dig your work. You can take that to the bank on your way mental baby! Don't go, Don't go yet, it's wonderful stuff."
Christopher Walken (American actor, dancer, director, screenwriter, and playwright)
His work has been exhibited, published, and internationally awarded. NYC, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, and Italy, his photographs are collected internationally and are part of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Art. His photographic book 'Ghost' was awarded 3rd prize in Paris at the PX3 awards in the fine art book category.
Blindness has caused political and social reverberation, through the deliberate appropriation of the image in a multitude of cultures, countries, and religions worldwide.