Approved: 16.08.2006

Helen Snell


Approved: 16.08.2006

Combining the mass produced and the unique is, for me, 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

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  • Location: Combeinteignhead, South West
  • Activities: Lecturing, Practice-based research, Residencies, Public art, Private commissions
  • Categories: 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




    Combining the mass produced and the unique is, for me, 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.

    CV & Education

     Qualifications and training

    1995 - Illustration, Royal College of Art, London

    1995 - MA Fine Art Printmaking, Camberwell College of Arts, London

    1986 - BA (Hons) Fine Art and French , Exeter University 

    1985 - Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, France


    Competitions, prizes and awards

    2014 Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust Award                                                                         

    2014 Quenington Sculpture Foundation bursary

    2012 -  2013 Grant for the Arts award for research and development of new work, National Lottery through Arts Council England, UK

    2010  Exeter Arts Council Grant for installation for The Joy Collective tour, Exeter,CCANW.  The Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust Award for laser cutting, Plymouth College of Art

    2007   Awards for All grant to fund costume and set design for The Winter's Tale , Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon.                                                                                                                

    Prize Winner Cheltenham Illustration Awards 2007, Pittville Studios, University of Gloucester,

    2006  Arts Council Grant, Art Farm Project, Devon

    2003 FUSE bursary from Compassion in World Farming and Littoral Arts to produce work in response to the ethics of biotechnology

    2002  Exeter Arts Council grant to finance residency and installation at the Phoenix Gallery ‘I don’t want to go to school.’


    2017  The Observatory Residency (forthcoming), Bucklers Hard, Beaulieu

    2013 - 2015  National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth. Inaugural artist in residence

    2009 -  2010  AA2A residency  in laser cutting, Plymouth College of Art and Design

    Public commissions

    2015  ‘Gather-ing,’ Contemporary craft commission for the Priory, Stoke Sub Hamdon, Somerset. Initiated by Somerset Art Works, and the National Trust. Curated by Craftspace.

    2012   NEOREPLICANTS, Exeter Phoenix Digital Art 3D print Commission and exhibition working in partnership with the Centre for Additive Layering manufacturing,  Exeter University.

    2012  THE JOY OF MAKING, commission for installation of 50 laser cut paper vessels, Wolverhampton Art Gallery

    2011  NEW, FOUND TREASURES Commission for a series of laser cut paper vessels for the collection, National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

    2009  LIQUID LANDSCAPES: Collaboration with U.S. choreographer Stephan Koplowitz, Dartington Arts commission for 300 paper vessels, site specific performance at Mayflower Steps, Plymouth

    2007  Design and Construction of a series of film trophies for Two Short Nights film festival awards, Exeter Phoenix Projects

    2005   FIVE MAGAZINE curated by Gavin Turk, Published by Portfolio Five, Exeter

    Solo exhibitions

    2013 - 2015  BURNT OUT, national touring solo exhibition - Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, 20- 21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe, Chapel Gallery Ormskirk, Shire Hall Gallery Stafford, Hartlepool Art Gallery and other venues tbc, funded by National Lottery, through Arts Council England.

    2014   A SHORT FUZE  Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower , a series of site specific sculptural and wall based installations

    2012  THE JOY OF MAKING installation of 50 laser cut paper vessels, Wolverhampton Art Gallery

    2008   A Strange Harvest, Installation and 3D print works, Edinburgh Printmakers (Galleries 2 & 3), Edinburgh

    2007  The Winter's Tale Set and costume Design, Dartington Hall , Coleton Fishacre,      Kingswear                                                                                                                                 

    2007 The Animals Went in Two by Two, 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe

    2006  The Animals went in Two by Two, Fold Gallery, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

    2002  I don't want to go to school. Installation and residency, Exeter Phoenix.

    1997  The Same but Different. A show of 3D printed constructions, London Print Workshop


    Group exhibitions


    Ffolio. Llantarnam Grange

    Paper.  Salisbury Arts Centre

    Fresh Air Sculpture 2015. Quenington Old Rectory.

    From Cowboys to Astronauts – towards a circular economy, Exeter University


    Craft and Conflict,  Bilston Craft Gallery, Wolverhampton                                                           

    The Art of Remembering, Rheged Centre, Penrith, touring to The Dock Museum in Barrow and The Beacon, Whitehaven                                                                                                       

    Oriel Davies Open 2014     Newtown, Powys.                                                                      

    Materials Matter. Devon Guild of Craftsmen


    Growing: Celebrating our past, exploring our future, National Centre for Craft and Design, Sleaford. Leading figures in the sphere of contemporary craft and design, artists, curators, writers and influencers were invited to nominate work by emerging and established artists who will be the innovators of the future.                                                                                          

    Hand-made Future, Blank Media Collective, Manchester.                                                         

    intoLACE. Thelma Hulbert Gallery and Devon Guild of Craftsmen                                          

    The Journey: Exploring the Nature of Mending. Wallford Mill Crafts                   

    Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, London


    ALLOTMENT curated by TROVE, mac Birmingham                                                                

    Feeling the Pressure, Rhyl Library, Museum & Arts Centre                                                  

    National Sculpture Prize  Finalist, Broomhill Art and Sculpture Foundation, Barnstaple


    LOVELACE International Lace Awards,  Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Finalist.                   

    10 X 10, 20 -21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe                                                                 

    About Time, The National Centre for Craft & Design, Sleaford                                       

    EVOLVER Prize 2011, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton                                          

    Illustrious, The Point, Eastleigh                                                                                            

    New Territories, The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey                                             

    'Paper', Craft House Concept, Edinburgh                                                                                

     Up Close, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey


    Present Makers , Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton                                                                      

    TACO Torre Abbey Contemporary Open, Torre Abbey , Torquay


    CLOSURE, artworks-MK, Milton Keynes                                                                                  

    Gallery Artists, EDGAR MODERN, Bath                                                                                

    Multiples Cabinet, MONSTER TRUCK Gallery, Dublin                                                            

    PLACE IDENTITY MEMORY, Stranraer Museum, Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries                

    TACO - Torre Abbey Contemporary Open, Torre Abbey Historic House, Torquay



    Blank Canvas, Torre Abbey, Torquay                                                                                

    Cheltenham Illustration Awards 2008, Pittville Studios, University of Gloucester



     'As if one wasn't enough.', 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe


     Pinstripes and Pistons, 20 -21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe                                             

    The Art Farm Project, Rocombe farm, Devon


    Boxing Clever. International portfolio of paper engineering, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol                                                                                                                                        

    IMPACT 4 International Printmaking Conference, Muzeum Narodowe w Pozaniu, Pozan, Poland                                                                                                                                    

    Pulp Fantasy. An exhibition of paper art, 20-21 Visual Arts centre, Scunthorpe              

    snowcase#5 an installation of artists' multiples curated by Steve Messam, Fold Gallery, Cumbria


    FUSE. An exhibition of art inspired by biotechnology, ICA, The Mall, London


    National Print Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London

    Curated projects

    2012   Axis Artist of the Month (December)                                                                                             

    2012 Curators' Choice , isendyouthis, online.

    2010  Axis Choice - curators' selection


    Educational experience

    2015 Visiting lecturer and Fablab technical support Plymouth College of Art

    2000  Head of Art, Stoodley Knowle School

    1998  Part- time teacher of Art, Chigwell School, Essex

    1995  Head of Art, Davenant Foundation School, Loughton, Essex


    Site specific

    2011  EMBARK: Ferry Art, King Harry Ferry, Truro

    2010  Meleager's Garland. Site specific installation curated by Anneka French, Sir Joseph Bank's Conservatory, Lincoln                                                                                                  

    JOY COLLECTIVE, Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, Exeter

     2007  Le Jour le Plus Bon, La caserne des 26000 , 17 rue du 26eme Dragons, Dijon



    2014  National Museum of Wales : Behind the Scenes of the Museum: Artists in Collections, Axis Symposium supported by Arts Council Wales

    2013 Abbot Hall Art Gallery Kendal : Museum, Artists and Collections, hosted by Museum Development North West and Axis Web



    2015  Elected trustee, Devon Guild of Craftsmen

    2013  Elected member , Devon Guild of Craftsmen

    2012  Elle Decoration Hot List, Elle Decoration April 2012