Helen Sear. In Waiting: An exhibition of photographs by Helen Sear for the redevelopment of the Royal Sussex County Hospital

29 July - 28 August 2020

New Online Exhibition

Helen Sear. In Waiting

an exhibition of photographs by Helen Sear
for the redevelopment of the Royal Sussex County Hospital

28 July - 28 August 2020

James Hyman Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of recent works by Helen Sear. Entitled Helen Sear. In Waiting, the exhibition is the fourth in a series of exhibitions by James Hyman Gallery to address aspects of health and well-being and we are delighted that once more a significant component of the sales will go to charity.

40% of proceeds will go to the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

These works were commissioned through the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust Connect 3Ts Hospital Redevelopment Public Art Programme, in partnership with Photoworks and Willis Newson. In addition to Helen Sear as lead artist, three further artists were also commissioned for this project: Murray Ballard, Zoe Childerley and Celine Marchbank.

In 2017 Helen Sear was appointed Lead Photographer to make work for 8 of the 36 public waiting rooms in the new hospital. One of Helen's starting points was to look at the legacy of other artists with Sussex connections: Roland Penrose, Lee Miller, Eileen Agar, and Max Ernst. This led her to Edward James and West Dean Gardens, which inspired a surrealist approach, both in terms of the manipulation of images and a lightness of touch. Visiting inspirational locations - from Standen House and its arts and crafts legacy, to Iping Common, a magnificent example of endangered heathland habitat - Helen playfully manipulates and layers images to create beautifully patterned compositions that celebrate nature in all its forms.

Drawn to examine the contrast between places in which nature is left to its own devices, and places where plants and landscapes have been carefully cultivated and protected by human intervention, Sear spent two years exploring the gardens and landscapes of Sussex in the making of these works. As she has explained:

"I saw parallels between these sites and environments for wellbeing and worked to produce pictures that playfully explore colour and light through combining images in post-production. My central aim was to make pictures that stimulated and engaged hospital users at times of anxiety and in situations when waiting times are often unpredictable."

"The pictures I have constructed are as much about touch as vision, sometimes the "operations" performed on the surface of the image taking many days to complete, extending time through the act of drawing or the enhancement of colour to allow a journey both inside and outside the picture".

About Helen Sear

Helen Sear was the first woman to represent Wales with a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale. In 2015 at the 56th Biennale she presented a suite of new works ...the rest is smoke. Sear's practice focuses on the co-existence of human, animal, and natural environments and is rooted in an interest in Magic Realism, Surrealism and Conceptual Art. She studied Fine Art at Reading University and University College London, Slade School, her practice coming to prominence in the late 1980s, when she worked primarily with mixed-media installation, performance and video. Her photographic works became widely known in the 1991 British Council exhibition, De-Composition: Constructed Photography in Britain, which toured extensively in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Photography remains a central subject and medium in her work, which often challenges the dominance of the eye and the fixed-point perspective associated with the camera lens and explores the potential of the artwork to activate and elicit feeling. Her most ambitious video work to date, wahaha biota, was shown in the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland in 2018-19. Her inaugural exhibition with Martin Asbaek Gallery, Fascination, opened in Copenhagen in March 2018. In 2019 two major pieces were acquired by The Hyman Collection

Sear was visiting professor at the Royal Academy Schools London between 2014 and 2019 and is currently external examiner for Graduate Media at the Slade School UCL. She was recently voted one of the key 100 women photographers practicing globally by The Royal Photographic Society: Hundred Heroines.

About Photoworks

Photoworks champions photography for everyone. We've provided opportunities for artists and audiences since 1995. We are an international platform. Global in reach, we don't have a venue but our online channels are always open. Our programmes, both physical and digital, bring new experiences to audiences and open up new ways to encounter photography. Photoworks is a registered charity and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation with a national remit. photoworks.org.uk @photoworks_uk