The Woods will Turn: Sawn 6, Helen Sear, 2018


prospect  refuge  hazard
Saturday 5th May – Sunday 10th June 2018
Exhibitions co-hosted by Dalby Forest, Ryedale Folk Museum and Crescent Arts

We are also delighted to announce the première screening of ‘wahaha biota’ by Helen Sear

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


Opening weekend Friday 4th May – Sunday 6th May 2018

Friday 4th May:
Exhibition preview at 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole, North Yorkshire YO62 6UA

Saturday 5th May:
Première screening of ‘wahaha biota’ and exhibition preview from 3.00pm followed by a forest barbeque.
Dalby Forest, The Courtyard, Lower Dalby, Pickering, North Yorkshire YO18 7LT

Sunday 6th May:
Helen Sear ‘in conversation’ with Jonathan P. Watts at 2.30pm
Dalby Forest, The Courtyard, Lower Dalby, Pickering, North Yorkshire YO18 7LT

Sunday 6th May:
Exhibition preview at 5.30pm – 7.30pm
Crescent Arts, The Crescent, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 2PW


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.

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

Taking lyrics from the many rock and pop 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.


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.

The artist 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, commissioned by Arts Council of Wales, will also provide a strong focus of the exhibitions co-hosted by 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.

The Forestry Commission England has a long history of commissioning and working with artists in the forest environment, extending over the past 50 years, and its programme Forest Art Works is designed to promote arts activity in all its districts across England. We’re delighted to present newly commissioned work by Helen Sear as the first artist-in-residence at Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire with major funding support from Arts Council England.

For further information, please contact:

Laleh Hobbs, Communications & Marketing Manager
Forestry Commission, Yorkshire Forest District
T: Direct 0300 067 4333 | Mobile 07557 613496

Stuart Cameron, Director of Crescent Arts
T: 01723 351461