On 21 September 2023, Helen Sear is in conversation with Eugenie Shinkle at the Centre for British Photography.

“Helen Sear presents a series of large-scale works that combine multiple images to emphasise the indivisibility of the human and the natural worlds. In giving equal status to the human and natural, Sear observes the landscape as another body.

Sear questions whether it is possible to have a view of nature without incorporating the human presence. She emphasises that what she records is not something that is separate or distant from her. Instead she is a part of nature and the experience is immersive. One way she does this is by disrupting a fixed-point perspective in many of her large composite works. The viewer follows her as she moves around, looks up and down, travels from the front to the back. In denying a fixed-point perspective and stitching her images together, she creates multi-layered landscapes. Ultimately, what Sear achieves in her composites is an active, rather than a static viewing”. 

Helen Sear’s practice focuses on the co-existence of human, animal, and natural environments and is rooted in an interest in Magic Realism, Surrealism and Conceptual Art. She studied Fine Art at Reading University and University College London, Slade School of Art, her photographic works becoming widely known in the 1991 British Council exhibition, De-Composition: Constructed Photography in Britain, which toured extensively in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Her work explores the materiality of vision, often combining hand drawn or erased elements with photography to disrupt a convention of fixed-point perspective associated with the medium. She also works with moving image and mixed media installations. Sear was the first woman to represent Wales with a solo exhibition at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015 presenting a suite of new works…the rest is smoke. Her inaugural exhibition with Martin Asbaek Gallery, Fascination, opened in Copenhagen in March 2018 and two major pieces were acquired by The Hyman Collection in 2019 Dewi Lewis published her book Era Of Solitude in November 2021. 

Eugenie Shinkle is a photographer and writer based in London, UK. She is Reader in Photography at the University of Westminster, and co-editor of the online photobook platform C4 Journal.

The Fast Forward: In Conversations in collaboration with Centre for British Photography will initially run from Autumn 2023 through to the summer of 2024.

The video-podcast is now available on the Fast Forward website.