Biography

Franki was born in Salford on 17th October 1955. Her parents were Eric and Gillian Raffles (nee Posnansky). She had two older sisters, Sally and Emma, and a younger brother, Hugh. Her father managed the Manchester clothing manufacturing business which had been established by her grandfather. In 1963 the family moved to London where Franki was educated at Lady Eleanor Holles School. As a teenager she was active in Jewish Youth organisations and aged fifteen she joined a trip to the Soviet Union visiting Moscow and Leningrad. In the summer of 1973, after leaving school and before university, she spent several months in Israel working as a swimming pool lifeguard in Tel-Aviv.

In September 1973 Franki took up a place at St Andrews University to study Philosophy. During her time at St Andrews she was active in the Women’s Liberation Movement and she held strong feminist views for the rest of her life. In 1977 she graduated MA (Hons) Moral Philosophy and in the following year she moved to the Isle of Lewis to renovate a derelict farmhouse in the village of Callanish. Her daughter, Anna, was born in September 1979. While living on Lewis she worked as a self-employed weaver in the Harris Tweed industry and began her photographic practice. After four years living in this remote community she decided to move back to the mainland.

In 1983 Franki came out as a lesbian and she and Anna moved to Edinburgh. From this time onwards she began to find work as a self-employed photographer. She worked with community groups, charities and arts organisations, and taught evening classes. She arranged an exhibition of her early photographs entitled Lewis Women. She was awarded a Kodak Bursary and funding from Polaroid to develop and carry out an innovative educational photography project with children with special needs at Pinewood School – We can take Pictures. In September 1983 she spent several weeks in Zimbabwe where, for the first time, she introduced an international perspective to her creative practice and photographed a local women’s health project, an image from this project was later used in the Women’s Press Diary.

In June 1984, together with Anna and her partner, Sandy, Franki set off to make the journey across the Soviet Union on the trans-Siberian railway to China. The two women spent over twelve months travelling and also visited Tibet, India, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Throughout this period she was taking photographs, many recording women’s lives and work. On her return to Scotland she began to select work from her travels for future exhibition.

Back in Edinburgh in the summer of 1985 Franki returned to working as a self-employed photographer. She continued with a portfolio of educational, community-based, charity and campaign project work. In November 1985 she travelled to Mexico on a commission for The Mercury Gallery. In 1986 she carried out a project commissioned by Edinburgh District Council featuring the women athletes in the 13th Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh. This resulted in an exhibition entitled Simply Women which toured community venues across the city. From then on she was attached to projects developed through Edinburgh District Council’s Women’s Committee and documented all aspects of the work of the Committee. In 1987/88 this included the booklet and touring exhibition To Let you Understand about women’s lives and work across the city.

Nikki, Franki’s partner Sandy’s daughter was born in 1986.

In 1989 Franki’s work was included in The Stills Gallery Touring Exhibition Picturing Women. She also continued to plan international projects and spent time in Dominica and in the Soviet Union. In 1990 an exhibition of photographs taken in Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine, Women Workers, was shown in Glasgow and Rostov-on-Don, Russia.

Her son, Joe, was born in December 1991.

From 1991 Franki worked, with Evelyn Gillan and a small team of other women, to establish the charity Zero Tolerance, to raise awareness of male violence against women. She was responsible for creating the images used in the early campaigns which were launched to great acclaim in Edinburgh and were then taken up by local authorities across the UK and abroad.

At this time she was awarded funding as a Wingate Trust Scholar to undertake a documentary project, entitled Lot’s Wife, working with immigrant Jewish women, from the former Soviet Union, who had been resettled in IsraelShe visited Israel a number of times to carry out this project which investigated ideas of family, identity, and religion. In the autumn of 1994 she was completing the selection of images and editing interviews she had carried out with the Russian Jewish women.

Her death on 6th December 1994 was completely unanticipated and came as a result of complications after giving birth to twin daughters. She is survived by her partner, Sandy, and children Anna, Nikki, Joe, Kate and Sarah.