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

  • 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

  • Craft and Conflict

    13/09/2014 – 22/11/2014
    Bilston Craft Gallery

    Craft and Conflict brings together both contemporary and historical items that commemorate and explore the themes of war and remembrance.

    Find out more

  • The Art of Remembering

    20/09/2014 – 23/11/2014
    Rheged Centre, Penrith

    A multi-disciplinary art exhibition funded by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund that asks what kind of emotional connection remains to the First World War.

    Find out more

  • 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

  • A Short Fuze

    01/06/2014 – 31/10/2014
    EXPLOSION. The museum of naval firepower, Gosport.

    A site specific exhibition inspired by the history of the site as a munitions factory and the human cost of producing weapons.

    Find out more

  • Oriel Davies Open 2014

    19/04/2014 – 18/06/2014
    Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown, Powys, Wales

    One of my laser cut layered paper works entitled Lifebuoy with Filaments has been selected for the 2014 Open.

    Find out more

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