Space Agency – Helen Schell
I specialise in art projects inspired by space exploration and science of the cosmos. This involves collaborating with scientists and takes the form of mixed media installations, large paintings, smart materials costumes and experimental books. These are created under the auspices of Space Agency and employ optical illusions to express the unknown phenomena of the Universe. This work started in 2007 whilst doing an MA in Glass at Sunderland University. Since then, I have collaborated with scientists in the fields of astrophysics and cosmology including a residency at Durham University’s Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, called Space-Time Laboratory. This afforded me the opportunity to meet space shuttle astronauts and visit the UK Dark Matter Laboratory. I am now an ESERO-UK Space Ambassador for education wing of the European Space Agency. Twice, I have been a judge for the NASA Humans in Space Art Competition.
In 2014, I started the year with a residency and workshop for Royal Holloway Astrophysics Department. For this I created 3 large experimental books about extra spatial dimensions, Dark Matter and CERN. This was a continuation of book projects started on a residency for the Festival of the North East where I made a large book called Observatory inspired by telescopes, and ran a series of book workshops at Gateshead Library. Later in 2014, I collaborated with choreographer Mehmet Sander to produce a billboard, SUN (Rise): Can you fall up? for a Metal public art project about the Sun and gravity. For the Jotta & Blurb ‘Unbinding the Book’ project, I made Moon Book, which was shown at the London Art Book Fair, and in 2015 will be touring to New York and San Francisco.
I joined NewBridge Studios in 2011, where I began a Lunar Laboratory Project, Moon-Shot: Woman in the Moon. For this project, I created a series of large paintings of a Moon Rocket (10.5 metres high), Full Moon and Lunar Space Station. This solo show was exhibited at Vane and Globe Galleries in Newcastle in 2013. Both art & education projects examine aspects of the Moon and in 2012; I was Maker in Residence at the Centre for Life, where I devised, Make It to The Moon interactive workshops and family activities.
Undress: Redress. was a programme of exhibitions and workshops exploring smart materials clothing. This brought together Durham University’s NETPark, Science Learning Centre NE, and Arts Centre Washington to create work for the Newcastle Science Festival, and was short listed for the NE Culture Awards. I designed and made dramatic ball-gowns; the hi vis Dazzle Dress, and UN-Dress created from thermoplastic which dissolves in water. There was performance at Whitley Bay Film Festival showing it dissolving, which is now a short film. Other costume projects include the Beam Dress for Lancaster Festival of Light, and it was shown at Mattereality Conference at the Scottish Museum of Modern Art. There was a solo show in 2014 at NewBridge Project; Another Planet –The Human Spaceship which explored the future of human colonisation and evolution.
Specialist space themed workshops & presentations include the Moon, Mars, Solar System, Orbital Debris, Rockets & Robots, and Cosmic Science for Arts Catalyst, WMF, London Science Museum, IOP, British Science Festival, Laing Gallery, Centre for Life, Baltic 39 and many schools nationwide. . I offer a series of space themed art and education projects for venues around the country.
I am currently developing a solo show – Yellow Giant, a project about the Sun.
Web links to further images and information –
Virion Australia: Sun Project, Moon-shot & Smart Costumes 2014-15
Moon Book film – Unbinding the Book, Jotta & Blurb Touring Project, 2014-15
NCAN Blog 2014
Corning Museum of Glass Residency Site
ESERO-UK Space Ambassador site