Plymouth College of Art   2009/2010

Helen Snell

Combining the mass produced and the unique is, for me, humorous and ironical and full of suggestion and contradiction. I am interested in the process of reproduction (printmaking, digital media, collage, photocopies) and also by the theme of reproduction (with reference to biotechnology, genetics, sex and consumerism). My work is also informed by the ethical debate surrounding biotechnology and also the relationship between image and paper engineering.

Printed images and multiples enable a process of vulgarisation, undermine the obsession with originality, so that content becomes the primary concern. The repetition of the same imagery echoes our obsession with labels and brands as assurances of quality and also, paradoxically, echoes our fears provoked by images of cloning and other genetic interventions.

I am especially interested in the idea of the imperfect edition. Traditionally a printmaker is to be congratulated on his or her skill in producing a perfect edition. I have always found this to be a very mechanical approach; after the thrill of pulling the first few prints the process is predictable, a routine. To subvert the idea of an edition is exciting and a good metaphor for the paradoxical relationship between group identity and individuality. In the natural world we are familiar with classification along the lines of type yet on reflection every single leaf on a beech tree, as well as being true to type, is distinctly different.

I often take my starting point from commercial packaging nets that I customise in terms of structure and scale. Individual structures can then become units in a giant construction set, with the potential for endless configurations and reworkings according to context.

Installations often start out as small units, that grow, can be subjected to systematic modifications, and colonise the space.

Photographer: The artist

'A strange harvest'
Site specific installation. Manipulated photocopies, cut and scored, sizes range from 15cm to 150cm

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