Approved: 08.09.2016

Helen Barff

Artist, Maker, Teacher

Approved: 08.09.2016
 
 

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    Thoughts

       

      Biography

      I work with found objects and materials such as felt, plaster, concrete, rubber or photographic surfaces, using processes such as wrapping, casting or other interventions in space and surface. I am interested in how materials are shaped by temporality, or how memory becomes embedded in matter. I try and create a dialogue between the weight of matter and an ephemeral weightlessness of experience. My processes transform ethereal senses into corporeal forms. A sensitivity to touch is central to my practice.

      Each series of work indexes a ‘site of memory’ - this may include objects washed up on the Thames foreshore, or a more intimate place such as the inside of clothes. By pouring plaster or concrete inside clothing I am intending to cast the interior texture and seams, then reveal these weighty materials as sensual, almost living beings. These hard, cold materials appear soft and warm, which in turn provoke the senses.

      The human dimensions of my work relate to a haptic interaction with the world. I once overheard a German word (Handgröße) being used to describe my work, which can be translated as ‘handibility’ or something that fits comfortably into the hand. The work being described was a series of collected stones, which I then covered in a complete, seamless skin of felt. My felt covered objects appear weightless and abstracted. 

      The background for my practice is in drawing: There is always a gap in drawing; you can’t look at the subject and the mark on the page at the same time. In that gap perception is retained in memory. I close this gap by bringing the subject in direct contact with the materials. 

      CV & Education

      Education:

      MA - distinction, Drawing, Camberwell College, London, 2004

      BA (hons) - first class, Fine Art and Art History, Goldsmiths College, London, 1999

      Solo Exhibitions:

      BROOD, Bend in the River, Gainsborough, December 11

      Residency Exhibition – Rabley Drawing Centre, June 09

      Things from the Thames, Bearspace, SE8, November 05

      New Works II, selected new graduate, Farnham Maltings, Surrey, November 99

      Selected Group Exhibitions:

      All the Names, Scrap Metal, Toronto, October 2017

      Elephant, Paris College of Art, October 2017

      Rising, St Johns Bethnal Green, October 2017

      Jerwood Prize exhibition, Jerwood Space and UK tour, September 2017

      Liberties, The Exchange, Penzance, October 2016

      Traces and Remains: Inquiries into the Present, curated by Tatiana Cuevas Hospicio Cabañas (Guadalajara), Museo Amparo (Puebla) and Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (Mexico City). Colección Isabel y Agustín Coppel, Mexico, 2015 - 16

      Of the Sea, Chatham Dockyard, May 16

      Bench, Tintype Gallery, London, January 16

      All surface one moment, all depth the next, fourFOLD, Enclave, October 15

      Hangers, Rabley Drawing Centre, Wiltshire, September 15

      Liberties, Collyer Bristow Gallery, curated by Day + Gluckman, July 15

      UnFOLD, fourFOLD, Enclave, London, June 15

      All Things New, Man&Eve Projects, London, October 14

      Contemporary Art Society North, Art in the Home, York, August 14

      Matter and Memory, Alison Jacques Gallery, London, January 14

      Open Cube, White Cube, Masons Yard, London, July till Sept 13

      Punk-Salon, Schwartz Gallery, E9, May 13

      Regrouping, Bend in the River at the Usher Gallery, Lincoln, October 12

      Undercurrent, Departure Foundation, London, June 12

      Space Exchange, Aid and Abet, Cambridge, September 11

      Print and Design Now, Bearspace, July 11

      Print Salon, Mews Project Space, London, July 10

      Group show series, Trident Way, Departure Gallery, London, Oct 09 - March 10

      Group show, Royal Standard, Liverpool, January 09

      Group Show, Raising Ground, Bearspace, November 08

      Group Show, Bend in the River, Gainsborough, Dec 07 - Jan 08

      Demarco’s Festival, National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, August 07

      Touring drawing show, bluetenweiss, venues around Germany, Summer 07

      Driven, group show, Fieldgate Gallery, E1, July 07

      Group Show, Bend in the River, Gainsborough, November 06

      Group Show, Surface Gallery, Nottingham, July 06

      Group Drawing Show, SourceArt, Illinois, USA, July 06

      They Also Draw, Seven Seven Gallery, E8, April 06

      Group Show, Alma Enterprises, E2, November 05

      Demarco European Art Foundation Space, Edinburgh, August 05

      Oriel Mostyn, Mostyn Open, Llandudno, March 05

      Group show, Rabley Drawing Centre, Wiltshire, March 05

      Xhibit, work selected from across the University of Arts London, W1, May 04

      Goldsmiths graduates selected by Paul Hedge, Deptford X, July 99

      Selected Publications:

      Art Maze Magazine, full page feature, January 2017

      Drawing in the Grey Zone by David Vanderburgh, SURFACE/ΕΠΙΦΑΝΕΙΑΕΠΙΦΑΝΕΙΑ : Digital Materiality and the New Relation between Depth and Surface, Futura Publications, Athens, 2013

      Open Cube, interview with Adriano Pedrosa, White Cube, London, 2013

      Objects and Materials, A Routledge Companion – front cover and interview, London, 2013

      5th International Drawing Annual, Manifest Gallery, Ohio – essay on drawing, 2010

      Wallpaper Magazine ‘Umbras Game’ feature, January 09

      Artist Newsletter – front cover feature, November 08

      Essay – ‘What is Drawing For?’  Tracey – Contemporary Drawing Network, October 07

      New Art from London – Chris Townsend, Thames and Hudson, London, 2006

      Commissions:

      ACME website commission, Tools, 2013

      Held in the Hand, Leicestershire Artworks, 2009

      Deptford X, site specific piece in Creekside river, Arts Council funding, 2008

      South London Gallery, Route 12:36, Artwork on bus routes 12 and 36, 2000

      Residencies / Fellowships:

      Rabley Contemporary Drawing Centre, May / June 2009

      Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, Gasworks Gallery / Triangle Arts Trust, Feb - April 08

      Richard DeMarco Art Foundation Space – Skateraw, Scotland, August 05

      Ravensbourne School, Bromley, February 01

      Awards:

      A-N The Artists Information Company, Professional Development Bursary, March 2017

      Arts Council / Lottery funding for Deptford X project, September 08

      AHRB Grant for MA, 2003 - 04

      Birds Charity (Royal Academy of Arts) Award, August 03

      South Square Trust Grant, July 04

      Presentations / Seminars:

      Rabley Contemporary Drawing Centre, June 09

      Royal College of Art, London, October 08

      Michaelis School of Art, Cape Town, March 08

      University College for the Creative Arts, April 05

      Rabley Contemporary Drawing Centre, March 05

      Farnham Maltings, November 99

      Selected Collections:

      Deborah Ronnen Fine Art, New York

      Joe Shlesinger and Samara Walbohm, Toronto, Canada

      Colección Isabel y Agustín Coppel, Mexico

      Rodney Lubeznik, Chicago

      Richard DeMarco Archive, Edinburgh

      Teaching / workshop experience:

      Market Hall Musuem, Rugby, series of workshops with an Asians womens group exploring stories of migration through objects and clothing. October 2017

      St Pauls Girls School, Part-time sculpture teacher. 2008 to current

      National Maritime Museum, School project with artist Alice Wilson, 2017

      Johanna Primary School, London, workshop and careers talk. June 16

      The Usher Gallery, Lincoln, Drawing workshop with primary aged children. October 12

      Cape Town Society for the Blind, workshop with blind / visually impaired adults. March 08

      UCCA, Maidstone, Foundation Course, Sessional Fine Art tutor. 2005 - 09

      City and Guilds London School of Art, Foundation Course, Visiting tutor. 2006 - 07

      Wimbledon School of Art, Short courses, Visiting tutor. 2006 - 08

      Working Mens College - Camden, Adult education, Life drawing tutor. 2006 - 07

      Community Education Lewisham, Adult education, Life drawing tutor. 2004 - 07

      Whitefield School and Centre, Walthamstow, Drawing workshop with children with special educational needs. May 06

      Shaw Primary School, Ockenden, Art workshop with key stage 1 and 2. January 06

      Lea Rivers Trust, Drawing workshop for primary school teachers. May 05

      The Children’s Society, Refugee Week, workshop with children / young people. May 05

      Camberwell College of Art, crit sessions on the BA Drawing course. June 04

      Youth Education Support Services, Camberwell, Part-time Art tutor, set up and ran YESS Art department. Working with excluded 11 to 20 year olds. 2004 - 2005

      Greenhouse School Projects, Hammersmith, workshops with 11 to 15 year olds. August 03