helen amyes

from the studio

23rd January 2017

Poochibald 2015How do you decide where to exhibit your work? I was totally “at sea” with this for a while after coming out from art school,learning plenty about Post Modernism but not a lot about everyday practice as an artist.Here in the West most artists seem to go in for the nearest open competition showing in a town hall or worse shopping mall, and I have done my share of that. What I did after a while, with a wish list to show work in USA,Paris,Japan etc was borrow a method from my days of investing in the share market “reverse engineering” I think it was called. You would look to see what shares the top investors where buying i.e. Warren Buffet and follow suit if you could. In applying this to Art I sift through the CV of the artists I admire and like and go through back through to see where they have been showing and with which curators etc Then if it’s a regular biennial show for example get on the mailing list to submit work. Initially I did a lot of collage work as I found the global network for collage artists more accessible than painting, but this method has served me well.Once you get to know some active curators often they will send opportunities your way, and take your artwork to places you never dreamed of. Set backs and dead ends happen a fair bit in art, but persistence certainly pays, its good to have a few “irons in the fire”.


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11th Jan 2017

working in series

ideas board and small collages

Making a body of work,is an important stage in the development of any visual artist.Firstly now I do try to “start with the end in mind” i.e. where do I envisage this work going to be seen/exhibited.In the example above, the end goal was a large painting for submission to the Glover landscape exhibition.Having said that where possible I do use material created for as many applications as I can i.e. some of the collages in the picture went on to become textile designs, home decor items,prints and cards.I used to use visual diaries a lot to build ideas and collect research, but now i take an A1 sized sheet of MDF painted white [ or several] and make an ideas board with photos,sketches,textiles,painted colour tests etc. This creates a bigger visual field and reminder, and from it I carry on to paint and collage,play ,construct and destruct, pinning up the works on a wall, until I have something I like enough to work onto canvas. I like the work to take on a life of its own, and have some ambiguity and not be too controlled i.e. tight, so working in this way with paper mostly at first keeps things free and inexpensive. Some bodies of work go straight off into the world and some remain incubating awaiting completion. The experience of making work in series is a vital part of my practice now and a way to try to keep myself on track.