Helen Pailing arrived at Highgreen at the beginning of October 2013 having recently completed her MA Visual Arts: Designer Maker at University of the Arts London. An engagement with materials is central to Helen’s practice. She transforms seemingly non-precious everyday objects into sculptures, interventions and drawings. Helen is interested in the materials that surround us and the work she produces is formed out of a playful, intuitive collaboration between maker and matter. Found items and donated materials have become the substance of Helen’s Object a Day series. Each day Helen has been crafting a small hand-held sculpture using natural and man-made materials she has acquired. Farming-associated items such as drainage pipe, baler wrap and wire fencing have led Helen to larger works, producing temporary installations on the moors (such as Planted) and in works on show in the barn for her final exhibition. warp is the title of Helen’s end of residency exhibition, Highgreen, 2nd – 17th August and also the title of her piece the Dutch barn. This is a large scale installation that responds to Tarset’s industrial heritage and ideas and objects associated with wool making and weaving. Monofilament thread is used to represent the warp of a look that works its way across the length of the barn. As visitors move between the thread of the installation they act as the weft of the cloth. Selected work from the exhibition warp will then be shown at Queen’s Hall, Hexham 6th September – 11th October.
Work in the Community
Helen’s Open Studio in November drew lots of local people and some from further afield to meet her and find out more about her work. Just before Christmas Helen led a very well-attended and enjoyable Family ‘Make your Own Kaleidoscope’ Day. Helen initiated and organised a brilliant event Dark Skies Day with a Woolly Twist day at Tarset Village Hall on 29th March. The day celebrated Northumberland’s Dark Sky park status and sheep’s wool! The hall was decorated with woolen shooting stars, people were able to have a go at felting, weaving and star based activities as well as making music from star constellations designed by Tarset residents as part of Helen’s Stars of Tarset artwork. As evening arrived over 100 people stayed to enjoy a talk on moons by Chris Hudson and a performance of Edge by poet Katrina Porteous. The evening ended with music and dancing with movement highlighted by the wearing of white gloves and with decorations lit by ultra-violet light. Thank you to a great many people who contributed to the day and also to Northumberland National Park Authority, Tarset 2050 CIC and The Community Foundation of Tyne and Wear and Northumberland for their financial support.
A most enjoyable day visit was made to Highgreen by staff and students from Thomas Bewick School in Newcastle. Helen and artist Karen Rann led the creative activities on the day. Equally appreciated and enjoyed were the bonfire and barbecue overseen kindly by Harry Porteous, Highgreen’s manager, and walks led by Maureen McCracken and shelter building with Mark. In September we are working with Percy Hedley School. Helen, students and staff from the school will be making together a sculptural feature for the school’s entrance. A day’s visit to Highgreen will form part of the creative process and we are very much looking forward to their visit and to working with the school.