Emma Geliot's picture

Helen Sear, image Lua Ribiera

The Arts Council of Wales announced today that artist Helen Sear will represent Wales at the next Venice Biennale of Art in 2015. Her solo presentation will be by organised by Ffotogallery and curated by Stuart Cameron.

Sear is often mis-categorised as a photographer, but her practice has a broader fine art approach and involves a sculptural aesthetic that manifests itself across her moving image and lens-based image making as much as it does in her objects and installation works. Her recent bodies of work have taken on the relationship between the human and natural worlds.

The Raglan-based artist said,Having lived and worked in Wales since 1984, the opportunity to be part of Wales in Venice has been an ambition of mine for several years. The photographic image in art practice has never been so diverse or contested, and, with the acceleration of new digital technologies, the material presence of the image is now more than ever at stake.

In 2013 Helen Sear won the Wakelin Award and her video work Chameleon (2013) was purchased through that award and gifted to the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery s permanent collection in Swansea (see CCQ Issue 1 for this story). This came after a significant new body of work Lure had toured Wales and a year after Ffotogallery published Inside The View, a monograph charting Sear s practice over three decades.


Sear has also had a long-standing relationship with g39, who produced and published the first monograph of her work, Tale in 2009 and have presented her work in solo and joint exhibitions at home and abroad for many years.She is a board member of this artist-led organisation, as is Bedwyr Williams, who was the last artist to represent Wales in Venice in 2013 (and who we interviewed for the launch issue of CCQ).

The Cymru yn Fenis/Wales at Venice presentation of Helen Sear s work will be curated by Stuart Cameron, who curated her first solo show at Chapter Arts Centre while he was visual arts programmer there. Now director ofCrescent Arts in Scarborough, Cameron showed Pond there in 2011 and the video installation went on to form part of the subsequent Lure exhibition in 2013.

While the Arts Council of Wales acts as commissionerfor the Wales in Venice project, the management is offered out to galleries and/or curators who propose artists for consideration. Ffotogallery, the national development agency for photography and lens-based media in Wales, made the successful proposition for 2015 and director David Drake said,We are delighted with the news, for Ffotogallery has championed Helen Sear s work over a number of years and witnessed many exciting developments in her practice. For Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice 2015 the artist will be creating a beguiling new body of work which is both rooted in the local and familiar landscapes of Wales, and also responding to the wider context of the Venice Biennale.

No strangers to high-profile international projects, Ffotogallery presented the first Diffusion festival in Cardiff, an international celebration of lens-based practice, which brought together some of the most exciting lens-based artists to show in a staggering array of venues across the capital city throughout May 2013.

CCQ will be following the progress of the project over the coming year, online and in print and you can also find regular updates on the Arts Council of Wales website www.artscouncil of wales.org

Images: Portrait of Helen Sear by Lua Ribeira Chameleon (2013), still - Helen Sear The Tree Surgeon's Table (2012) - Helen Sear