Photo: Helen Snell in Combeinteignhead, South West

Helen Snell


Combining the mass produced and the unique is, for me, humorous and ironical and full of suggestion and contradiction. I am interested in the process of reproduction (printmaking, laser cutting, high tech and lo-tech) and also by the theme of reproduction (with reference to the ethical debate surrounding biotechnology, genetics, sex and consumerism). Printed images and multiples enable a process of vulgarisation, undermine the obsession with originality, so that content becomes the primary concern. The repetition of the same imagery echoes our obsession with labels and brands as assurances of quality and also, paradoxically, echoes our fears provoked by images of cloning and other genetic interventions. I am especially interested in the idea of the imperfect edition. Traditionally a printmaker is to be congratulated on his or her skill in producing a perfect edition. I have always found this to be a very mechanical approach; after the thrill of pulling the first few prints the process is predictable, a routine. To subvert the idea of an edition is exciting and a good metaphor for the paradoxical relationship between group identity and individuality. In the natural world we are familiar with classification along the lines of type yet on reflection every single leaf on a beech tree, as well as being true to type, is distinctly different. I often take my starting point from commercial packaging nets that I customise in terms of structure and scale. Individual structures can then become units in a giant construction set, with the potential for endless configurations or systematic modifications and reworkings according to context. My current series of laser cut paper and acrylic vessels explore the theme of survival.

Location Combeinteignhead, South West
Activities Lecturing, Practice-based research, Residencies, Public art, Private commissions
Artforms / type of project Digital, Installation, Mixed Media, Research, Sculpture
Tags laser cut, paper cut, water jet cut, multiples, imperfect editions, installation, laser cut, mixed media, survival, war, paper cut

News & Events

  • RCA Secret 2015

    12/03/2015 – 21/03/2015
    Royal College of Art, Dyson Building London SW11 4AN

    Exhibition and sale of original postcard-sized artworks, by internationally acclaimed artists plus graduates from the RCA

    Find out more

  • Burnt Out

    11/07/2015 – 29/08/2015
    Hartlepool Art Gallery

    Burnt Out is a 20-21 Visual Arts Centre touring exhibition of sculptural installations, lighting and two dimensional works funded by a grant from Arts Council England

    Find out more

  • Paper

    01/04/2015 – 17/05/2015
    Salisbury Arts Centre

    An eclectic exhibition celebrating inventive uses of paper. Paper brings together artists who cut, crease, fold and otherwise manipulate paper in the making of their work.

    Find out more

  • From Cowboys to Astronauts – towards a circular economy

    27/04/2015 – 22/05/2015
    The Enviro Hub, Devon Contract Waste, Marsh Barton, Exeter

    A collaboration with the Centre for Alternative Materials and Remanufacturing Technologies (CALMARE), part funded by the ERDF, based at the University of Exeter

    Find out more

  • Selected for made@EU international Fablab project launched by Plymouth College of Art

    Please follow link

  • The Art of Remembering ITN news feature and catalogue download

    The exhibition was featured on the ITN news Catalogue download:

  • Quenington Sculpture Trust Bursary

    Awarded a bursary for making new laser cut work in copper for Fresh Air 2015

  • British Forces News - film feature on A Short Fuze exhibition at NMRN

    Here is a short film feature about my current residency and exhibition at the National Museum of the Royal Navy

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