Notes from Wales Issue 1: Autumn 2014 - Page 25

There are always new initiatives emerging either from recent graduates, current students and emerging artists in Wales. Third Floor Gallery Cardiff is a great example of a photographer-run organisation focussing on international contemporary documentary work. The National Museum, g39 and Ffotogallery are all favourites of mine but I would also recommend visiting Oriel Davies in Newtown and also the wonderful Plas Glyn Y Weddw in Llanbedrog, north Wales. I am also looking forward to the re-opening of the Glynn Vivian in Swansea. Finally Artes Mundi is a focus event showcasing a selection of the best contemporary international work in Wales this autumn. RW: What was the last show you saw that had an impact on your practice and why? HS: Both Uncommon Ground at the National Museum in Cardiff and United Enemies at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds reminded me of the connections between sculpture, photography and moving image which had such an influence on me as an art student, and still do today. I also recently saw a mesmerising video work by the Australian artist Hayden Fowler at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Titled ‘New World Orde r’, it featured live heritage chickens in what appeared to be a constructed landscape. Their cries or mating calls were, or were maybe not, computer-generated and the whole piece was a brilliantly engineered balance between the natural and the constructed. RW: Tell us about your working practice and your routines. What worries you? What excites you? HS: I spend every day working, or thinking about making art, and have done for the last 30 years. I am extremely worried about systematic and institutional indifference, and the active erosion of art, as a valid subject and practice, both by government and educational institutions. I hate the insidious shift in language that has turned us all into “creatives” and in doing so negated the complex and challenging character of artists, their work and function within society. I know that I am not the only one who feels that this critical condition needs to be addressed, as demonstrated so vibrantly at last year’s Art Party Conference in Scarborough. Making art can keep you out of hospital. Growing vegetables excites me, and the possibility that I could be a full-time artist for at least the next 20 years of my life. RW: You’ve recently been selected to represent Wales at next year’s Venice Biennale. What have you got planned? HS: I am working on six new works for the Wales presentation in Venice next May. They are all independent works that inter-relate through sound and image across the whole site, which in itself is playing a major part in the formation of the work. It is a huge privilege to be selected and I feel excited at the prospect of linking aspects of my immediate working environment in rural Wales with Venice, through both art historical and cinematic references. I am thrilled to be working under the directorship of Louise Wright, David Drake and the Ffotogallery team, along with the curatorial scrutiny of Stuart Cameron, who gave me my first exhibition at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff back in the late 1980s. This is a once-in-alifetime opportunity for me to achieve my best work with a fantastic support network, and hopefully make Wales proud. Helen Sear, Siteline 2, 2011 Helen Sear interviewed by Ruth Wilbur for Axisweb’s Artist of the Month, April 2014, with additions September 2014 NOTES FROM WALES | AUTUMN 2014 24