Video Still, Helen Sear, 2017


Saturday 5th May 2018
Première Screening and Exhibitions Launch at
Dalby Forest, Ryedale Folk Museum and Crescent Arts.

Wahaha Biota by Helen Sear

A new video and sound work commissioned during a year-long residency at The Forestry Commission England, Dalby Forest, in partnership with Crescent Arts and as part of Forest Art Works.

‘If the trees in the forest could utter vibrations absorbed over time, they might resemble the sound track for Wahaha Biota’
– Helen Sear

From the planting of trees to their processing in the saw mill Helen Sear has followed and videoed the day to day management of the forest environment, combining the industry of wood production with leisure activities such as paintball where the forest fulfils the function of a backdrop for primal experiences.

Taking lyrics from the many concerts staged in Dalby Forest as a starting point, and producing sheets of words “cut up “ in the tradition of Tristan Tzara and the Dadaists of the 1920’s, the artist led a sound workshop at Dalby Forest with Rob MacKay, Senior Lecturer in Music from The University of Hull. Participants vocalised the cut up lyrics for a dawn chorus recording of human voices set in a forest clearing. Their calls and whispers mingle with birdsong and barking deer across the physical space of the forest. The resulting sound collage is reminiscent of a pre-lingual stage of development, where boundaries are fluid, exploring the pure materiality of existence. The result is a lyrical cycle of intense sound and imagery that explores a visceral human relationship with the forest, referring to both the mythological and the quotidian, rendering both inseparable.

Biota: the animal and plant life of a particular region, habitat, or geological period.

“The photographic image in art practice has never been so diverse or contested, and, with the acceleration of new digital technologies, the function and presence of the image as both material and permeable is an ongoing challenge in the meaning, making and reception of my work.” Helen Sear

Helen Sear’s practice can be characterised by her exploration of the crossover between photography and fine art, and her focus on the co-existence of the human, animal, and natural worlds. Her practice has developed from a fine art background in performance, film and installation work in the 1980s and she continues to explore ideas of vision, touch and the representation of the nature of experience, combining drawing, lens-based media and digital technologies. Her work challenges accepted notions of photography as a documentary and creative medium.

With an exemplary track record for producing high quality, conceptually rigorous work, Helen Sear’s current work moves seamlessly between photography, sculpture, sound and video exploring the potential of the artwork to activate and elicit feeling. She represented Wales for Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice at the 56th International Art Exhibition, The Venice Biennale 2015, reinforcing critical acclaim for her work internationally. A selection of works produced for Venice will also provide a strong focus of the exhibitions at Dalby Forest, Ryedale Folk Museum and Crescent Arts in May 2018.

Stuart Cameron, curator of Sear’s first major exhibition at Chapter Arts Cardiff in 1987 and of …the rest is smoke for Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice 2015, has worked closely with Helen Sear, The Forestry Commission England and Forest Art Works over the past year to enable the first artist’s residency and commission at Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire.

For further information, please contact:
Stuart Cameron, Director of Crescent Arts