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Helen Clarke - New Blood

To help give further insight to the artists featured in the New Blood exhibition Broadway Gallery curator Kris Day asked each artist a series of questions on their practice, how their work was affected by the lockdown and what they think galleries should be doing to help support early career artists.
 
Could you tell us a bit more about your practice?
My work comprises sculpture and installation, referencing ideas around production processes, consumption and material culture. My practice is directed by a playful, process-based approach in which the materials take the lead, predominantly using casts taken from everyday objects found in a domestic environment. Through a process of replication and material transformation, internal voids and structures become strange new objects; taken out of their everyday context they propose an otherness and critique the relationships and values that exist between human and object.
 
As an art student working through the pandemic please tell us about some of the challenges you faced during this time.
Graduating in 2020 posed a huge challenge. The final degree show presentation became a digital portfolio, thus stultifying the physical development of many of my planned works.  
 
All artists were forced to adapt during the lockdown, do you think these circumstances effected your practice in any way and did you manage to find new ways of getting your work ‘out there’, such as online exhibitions?
Without access to facilities, the kitchen and garden became studio, forcing new methods of working and “making do” with non-traditional tools and materials. 
Being forced into a digital submission resulted in an increased use of software and brought about some interesting experimentation which has now become part of my practice.
As a cohort at the University of Hertfordshire we worked together on an online exhibition for our degree show which remains as a legacy of the strange situation that we found ourselves graduating in.
 
Exhibitions such as New Blood aim to support early career artists by exposing them to new audiences, but this can only go so far. Is there anything that galleries could, or should, be doing to help develop your career further?
Opportunities such as that provided by New Blood offer a massive support to emerging artists and the additional mentoring program is so helpful with navigating the obstacles that early career artists face.  Finding an audience is often one of the largest challenges, so publicity and  wide ranging exposure as can be provided by galleries is key to this.  That being said, peer group support is also critical in establishing opportunity and connections.  By bringing together artists in group shows the gallery also helps facilitate these wider networks.  Leaving an arts education rich with the culture of critique can be daunting, and the lack of critical conversation can be difficult, so if galleries offering these kind of mentoring programmes could encourage and facilitate informal crit groups it might help artists with their ongoing work and research.
 
Are there any new projects you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about?
I am currently undertaking an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art. Much of my research is working within the notions of connectedness and the relationships between the natural world and the manmade.  I am also working with scale, from microscopic, cellular forms to huge geographical forms and the relationships between them.