Helen Hughes’ work is predominantly sculptural. Making and materiality are foundational in her practice, which is process based and takes inspiration from mass produced commodities and the seductive surfaces of retail. She manipulates industrially manufactured elements, probing the homogeneity that is prevalent in consumerist society. She hones and develops her own improvised and intensely physical processes and she utilizes materials that are willful and difficult to control, like balloons, fast-cast resins and foams. Her ways of working are rooted in the body and its ways of understanding, and counter our increasingly virtual ways of navigating the world and a resulting divorce from materiality. The designated functions of mass manufactured produce are disrupted in her processes to draw attention to latent qualities and hidden agency in the materials. She views this as an expansion of the industrial process, where her improvised actions result in a more human sensibility.
For this newly commissioned exhibition at the Roscommon Arts Centre, Helen has expanded her existing materials-focused, sculptural practice into compelling new territories. Taking her working methods outside of the studio for the first time, she has extended her core concerns into digital fields. Using processes such as 3D scanning and photogrammetry, she has collaborated with divergent industries on the physical manifestation of a number of the works. In this new body of work she explores how the core concerns in her practice translate when the final stage of the production is outsourced. This is a development of her existing studio practice where improvised processes facilitate fluid and intimate engagement with selected materials. Some of the works in “and Yes, daydreamer surRender” began in the studio in this way and were then digitally mapped and produced through specialist processes such as 3D printing and robotic CNC milling. Milling is used mainly for the production of props for the film industry and as such has facilitated production of Helen’s work to a scale and finish that is beyond the reach of her own physical capacity working in the studio.
Further, an element of the exhibition has been produced in the contemporary digital medium of Augmented Reality. Inspired by recent applications of this type of experience in art contexts, the inclusion of this non-physical strand is a timely and relevant expansion of Helen’s practice and facilitates references in her work to heightened perceptions of physical proximity in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Helen Hughes is a Mayo-born artist living and working in Dublin. She graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and completed a Masters in Visual Arts Practices through IADT Dublin. She has exhibited widely and her work has received commendations both in Ireland and internationally. Recent shows include Periodical Review #9, Pallas Projects, Dublin (2019), Dearly Beloved…VISUAL, Carlow (2019) and Syntonic State TULCA, Galway (2018). She was awarded a Visual Arts Bursary from the Arts Council in 2020 and an Agility Grant in 2021, also from the Arts Council.
Helen has upcoming solo exhibitions in the Custom House Gallery in Westport in 2022 and Ballina Arts Centre in 2025.
This exhibition is curated by Naomi Draper and is Supported by The Arts Council of Ireland
Exhibition Opens: Saturday 13th November and continues to January 15th.