In ‘Yellow Giant’ Helen Schell has worked with leading solar physicists to present a series of large and dramatic artworks exploring features of the Sun and of solar science. Schell’s work is inspired by space exploration and science of the cosmos, often collaborating with scientists on her projects. The large paintings Total Eclipse, SUN (Rise) – Can You Fall Up?, and Yellow Giant employ optical illusions to express phenomena of space, planetary bodies and gravity, as well as directly referencing the Op Art movement of the twentieth century. Sun Rocket – Helios Rocket 2 presents a stylised image of an imagined rocket to the Sun. Reminiscent of astrological and alchemical symbols as well as Tibetan mandalas, the painting moves between science and poetic allegory. The exhibition also contains SUN-dress for the Yellow Giantess, a huge ball-gown made from high visibility fabrics that explores the interplay of reflective light and fluorescent colours.
The collaborating scientists respond to Schell’s works in ‘Yellow Giant’ through the addition of interpretive materials as well as presentations during the run of the exhibition, exploring solar physics and bridging the disciplines of art and science in the process.
Presented as part of ‘drawing?’ an extensive region-wide programme of exhibitions, events and activities which aims to celebrate, explore and consider the role of drawing in art and design, science, technology and everyday life.
Helen Schell was born in the USA and lives in Sunderland, UK. She studied BA Sculpture, Gloucestershire College of Art & Design (1976-80), Post Graduate in Theatre Design, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (1981-82), Glass Techniques, Dudley College International Glass Centre (2002-03), and MA in Glass, University of Sunderland (2006-07). Exhibitions include ‘Moon-shot: First Woman on the Moon’, Vane, Newcastle upon Tyne, ‘Moon Rocket’, Esero Space Conference, York University, ‘Drawn Together’, World Monument Fund Exhibition, Durham Cathedral (2013), ‘The Faces of Time’, ArcheTime, New York (2012), ‘Space-Time Laboratory’, Durham University (2010), ‘The 11th Dimension’, Durham Cathedral, ‘I Make Time Machines’, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, ‘The Rocket Project’, Aardman Animations Ltd, Bristol (2009), ‘Time Travel X’, The George Gallery, Newnham-on-Severn (2008), ‘Capsule3 – Time’, Artscape, Gibraltar Point, Toronto (2007). She is an ESERO-UK Space Ambassador for the education wing of the European Space Agency and has twice been a judge for NASA art competitions. In April 2015, she was awarded a grant from the New York based Pollock Krasner Foundation to enable her to research and develop a series of artworks and education projects inspired by visits to the European Space Agency, UK Harwell Space Cluster and associated space industries.