Helen Schell

Space Agency – Helen Schell

The technological developments of the 21st century have created a dynamic new space-age and we are part of an exciting era of human space exploration. By the end of this century humans will have colonised the Moon (ESA mission) and Mars (NASA mission). What part do artists play in this new space-age future? I specialise in projects inspired by space exploration and science of the cosmos which involves collaborating with scientists. I invent optical illusions to express these phenomena creating installations, large paintings, smart materials costumes and experimental space- art books.

This work spans art and science exploring vision and visual perception in space conditions by employing space exploration imagery through the manipulation of geometric proportion, colour, scale and light. This started in 2007 whilst doing an MA in Glass at Sunderland University and is now the precursor to PhD research. This work has led to me becoming the only artist ESERO-UK Space Ambassador for ESA education aligned to British astronaut Tim Peake’s ISS Mission. A Pollock Krasner Foundation award in 2015 enabled me to visit UK Space Gateway, ESA, Royal Astronomical Society and National Space Centre and university Astrophysics departments to initiate projects uniting artists and scientists through collaboration. I have twice been a judge for the NASA – Humans in Space, competition.

I have been based at NewBridge Studios, Newcastle, UK, since 2011. The space themed work has been created through 9 years of art/science collaboration and at residencies, which include Durham, Royal Holloway, and Northumbria Universities.

I initiate artist led projects, which include working with Arts Catalyst, London Science Museum, Centre for Life, art galleries, universities and schools nationwide. During 2016, I am collaborating with Northumbria University’s Solar Physics group being commissioned to create a large artwork ‘SOLAR’, and school STEAM projects about the Sun ‘Yellow Giant – Imagining the Sun’.

On the Space-Time residency, 2010, at Durham University’s Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, I worked with leading scientists and met Space Shuttle astronauts. In 2014, on a residency with Royal Holloway University Astrophysics department, I created large art books about extra spatial dimensions, CERN particle accelerators, and dark matter. In 2011, I devised an ongoing lunar art/science project, ‘Moon-shot: Woman in the Moon’, which includes large paintings and public engagement projects and residencies.

SUN Projects
‘SUN (Rise): Can you fall up?’ Metal Peterborough, billboard project about the Sun and gravity, 2014. ‘8 minutes 20 seconds’, Holy Biscuit & attended Magneto Hydrodynamics Conference, 2015. ‘Yellow Giant’ solo show at Vane gallery, Newcastle in collaboration with Northumbria University solar physicists & Think Physics. Also, Dr Helen Mason from Cambridge University gave presentations and included university & school visits, and family workshops – 2015. ‘Imagining the Sun’, commission and school workshops collaborating with Northumbria University solar physics group and Think Physics, funded by STFC.

http://vane.org.uk/past-exhibitions/yellow-giant Yellow Giant, Vane Newcastle 2015

MOON Projects
In 2011, 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 and National Stem Centre, York University. I was Centre for Life, Maker in Residence, devising ‘Make It to The Moon’ family workshops. Other public engagement includes ‘Republic of the Moon’, Arts Catalyst and ‘They used to call it the Moon’, Baltic 39. ‘Make It to the Moon’, Science Museum.

http://vane.org.uk/past-exhibitions/moon-shot-first-woman-on-the-moon Moon-shot, Vane 2013

COSTUME PROJECTS – Smart Materials
Undress: Redress was a programme of exhibitions and workshops exploring smart materials clothing with Durham University’s NETPark, Science Learning Centre NE, and ACW. I made dramatic ball-gowns; Dazzle Dress, Rocket Dress & UN-Dress. Other costume projects include Beam Dress, Lancaster Festival of Light, also shown at Mattereality Conference, Scottish Museum of Modern Art. In 2014 at NewBridge Project, ‘Another Planet –The Human Spaceship’ explored the future of human colonisation in the altered gravity environments of space. ‘Guardian’ – I dressed the 5m high, William Wallace statue as a hi vis space-age warrior for Look Again, Aberdeen. ‘SUN-Dress for Yellow Giantess’ is a vast hi vis ball-gown created for the Yellow Giant project shown at Vane, & Maker Faire, 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttCfntmILMo   Bloodsmock 2014
http://youtu.be/ttCfntmILMo UN-Dress Film 2014

BOOK Projects
In 2014, on a residency and workshop for Royal Holloway Astrophysics Department, I created 3 large experimental books about extra spatial dimensions, Dark Matter and CERN. This was 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 space exploration in the region at Gateshead Library. Later in 2014, for Jotta & Blurb ‘Unbinding the Book’ project, I made Moon Book, shown at the London Art Book Fair and London College of Communication.

https://vimeo.com/105355226   Moon Book film – Unbinding the Book, 2014 -15

USA (Corning Museum of Glass, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship & Alden B Dow Fellowship), Canada (Banff Residency, Gibraltar Point, Toronto), Cuba (Forest Artists Exchange), Belgium (Brasschaat), Netherlands (Drenthe Residency), Sweden (Sofiero Castle), Germany (Hannover).

http://www.cmog.org/bio/helen-schell  Corning Museum of Glass

EDUCATION & public engagement

ESERO-UK Space Ambassador (ESA Education) & STEM Ambassador
Specialist space themed workshops & presentations include the Moon, Mars, Solar System, Orbital Debris, Rockets & Robots, and Cosmic Science for Arts Catalyst, World Monument Fund, London Science Museum, IOP, British Science Festival, Laing Gallery, Centre for Life, Celebrate Science and many schools nationwide. I offer a series of specialist space themed STEAM projects for venues around the country.

https://www.stem.org.uk/esero/space-ambassadors ESERO-UK Space Ambassador site

The Newbridge Project