|'the diviner' 2018|
“Sear has always, it seems, been interested in looking with, looking round and looking through as she is in looking at.”
‘a meeting of photography and sculpture, or treating the photographic image as sculptural,...’
In a visual-sense these logs are a series of cylinders piled onto one another, but it also raises feelings of deforestation, man's relationship with the forest, ideas of the homestead and stacking logs used for fires and so on. The doubling-up of the captured-moment of an image of stacked logs versus the stacking of the physical image itself calls into question the visual play between illusion and perception. A theme explored across a number of Sear’s works from when she exhibited in the Welsh pavilion in the Venice Biennale in 2015.
|'...caetera fumus' 2015|
Colour and the reference to painting (as we have already had with sculpture) are also present in another series of photographs called ‘brand 1’ and ‘brand 2’. You could almost take these images on first glance to be paintings, stains or rubbings.
“My use of colour is also to do with a convergence of the synthetic and the natural, using heightened colour to explore relationships between light and pigment, painting and photography.”
I think they are a photograph of a marking on a tree, but for me the uncertainty and place it fits between being photo and non-photo, is it a documentation of a moment in time or is it merely an image? Are these colours natural or manmade, real or unreal? Are questions what make these and many of Sear’s images worth revisiting.
“Her process of production often suggest a series of veils or membranes that may be alternately piled up and peeled away...Rather than merely giving us the world, or giving us to it, the photographic act is an overlayering , of times and places, signs and sensations.”
|'the beginning and the end of things' 2015|
There is more to be seen in this exhibition than I have referred to here in what is also worth noting is Sear's first solo show but second time exhibiting at Hestercombe, having shown work in 2015's 'Double Take'. Then as now, I feel that her use of colour, modes of display and references to painting/fine art is more exciting, inventive and engaging than I have felt about a lot of photography as a medium previously. It is great to have that perception challenged as it is also worth reiterating how great it is to see these works on my doorstep and I would encourage others to do the same.
Helen Sear’s 'prospect refuge hazard 2' is on at Hestercombe Gallery until October 28th
Quotes sourced from: Drake, D (2015) Helen Sear: ...the rest is smoke, Ffotogallery Wales Limited: Cardiff