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 in summer 2017. 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’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.
The artist 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.