TJ Boulting presents its first solo show with South African artist Helen A Pritchard next month. A 2011 graduate from the Royal College of Art MA in Painting, since then her work has expanded beyond the realms of painting into the sculptural, the object and most recently beyond that into the extra dimension of light. The common thread between them all being her utilisation of form, colour and material.
Crossovers and layering are central to her new explorations, combining the traditional materials of painting and sculpture with everyday objects like netting, wire, mesh, silk, plants, plastic and packaging. Once assembled, the works also respond to each other in the space in which they are intended. The often ephemeral and unfixed nature of the work is due to this context of installation, a response to something, someone, or a place. Often her experimental use of materials, such as curtains, lampshades or perfume bottles, brings a sense of domestic to the gallery space. There is also a sense of narrative behind each material, of its past and journey. This process means each work is not confined to a certain period of production, the artist utilises a continuous reconfiguring of earlier works into new inventions, made from found and discarded materials collected in her studio, to be considered over time, which often adds up to years.
In the main room of the gallery, the work is characterised by tensions created between form and material. Geometric constructions drawn from modernism in architecture, advertising and packaging, are shown together with objects of paper, cement, plaster, which cite the handmade. ‘Encounters’ refers to the artist’s direct response to the gallery space as well as the viewer’s subsequent subjective experience.
“I have an inclusive, yet oppressive, way of arranging space. The work can be singular or grouped through an assemblage of formal connections, adding to the transient nature of the work. The work displays an attraction to my questions surrounding what makes an object a painting or a sculpture.”
Entering the back space we are confronted with the added dimension of light, made in collaboration by the artist with Ilenia Bombardi. Old projectors and prisms are arranged in the space to cast coloured light forms and shadows onto the walls and on top of objects placed by the artist. The result is again a layering of form and materials and medium. The final work is reliant on the interaction of all components, without the surface of the wall and objects the light does not exist, and without the light the forms and colour disappear. It is a fragile balance but a carefully considered one. The viewer is again invited to navigate the space and experiences the work around them with this extra dimension, exploring the relational aesthetics at play.
About the artist
Helen A Pritchard graduated from the Royal College of Art MA Painting in 2011, where she received the Stanley Spencer Scholarship. She has shown in several international group shows including Waterside Contemporary and the Moscow Biennale and had a recent major solo show at SMAC gallery, Cape Town. Born in Durban, South Africa in 1975, she currently lives and works in London.