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NEWS RELEASE No: 1672215 MARCH 2018


Forestry Commission present prospect, refuge, hazard by Helen Sear


Forestry Commission present prospect, refuge, hazard by Helen Sear

Forestry Commission England is delighted to invite you to view the newly commissioned work by artist Helen Sear, the first female artist to represent Wales in Venice in a solo capacity in 2015, at Dalby forest from 5 May – 10 June 2018. We are also delighted to announce the premiere screening of ‘wahaha biota’ a new video and sound work commissioned during a year long residency at Dalby Forest as part of Forest Art Works, in partnership with Crescent Arts.

Forestry Commission England has a long history of commissioning and working with artists in the forest environment, extending over the past 50 years, and its programme Forest Art Works is designed to promote initiatives across artforms in England. Helen Sear is the first artist-in-residence at Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire as part of this programme thanks to funding support from Arts Council England.

From the planting of trees to their processing in the saw mill Helen Sear has followed and videoed the day to day management of the forest environment, combining the industry of wood production with leisure activities such as paintball where the forest fulfils the function of a backdrop for primal experiences.

Taking lyrics from the many rock and pop concerts staged in Dalby Forest as a starting point, and producing sheets of words “cut up “ in the tradition of Tristan Tzara and the Dadaists of the 1920’s, the artist led a sound workshop at Dalby Forest with Rob MacKay, Senior Lecturer in Music from The University of Hull. Participants vocalised the cut up lyrics for a dawn chorus recording of human voices set in a forest clearing. Their calls and whispers mingle with birdsong and barking deer across the physical space of the forest. The resulting sound collage is reminiscent of a pre-lingual stage of development, where boundaries are fluid, exploring the pure materiality of existence. The result is a lyrical cycle of intense sound and imagery that explores a visceral human relationship with the forest, referring to both the mythological and the quotidian, rendering both inseparable.

Helen Sear, Artist, explains: “The photographic image in art practice has never been so diverse or contested, and, with the acceleration of new digital technologies, the function and presence of the image as both material and permeable is an ongoing challenge in the meaning, making and reception of my work.”

Helen Sear’s practice can be characterised by her exploration of the crossover between photography and fine art, and her focus on the co-existence of the human, animal, and natural worlds. Her practice has developed from a fine art background in performance, film and installation work in the 1980s and she continues to explore ideas of vision, touch and the representation of the nature of experience, combining drawing, lens-based media and digital technologies. Her work challenges accepted notions of photography as a documentary and creative medium.

With an exemplary track record for producing high quality, conceptually rigorous work, Helen Sear’s current work moves seamlessly between photography, sculpture, sound and video exploring the potential of the artwork to activate and elicit feeling. She represented Wales for Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice at the 56th International Art Exhibition, The Venice Biennale 2015, reinforcing critical acclaim for her work internationally. A selection of works produced for Venice will also provide a strong focus of the exhibitions at Dalby Forest, Ryedale Folk Museum and Crescent Arts in May 2018. 

Stuart Cameron, curator of Sear’s first major exhibition at Chapter Arts Cardiff in 1987 and of …the rest is smoke for Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice 2015, has worked closely with Helen Sear,  and The Forestry Commission England over the past year to enable the first artist’s residency and commission at Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire.