Helfa Gelf

Edge 2/Ymyl 2. Helfa Gelf’s training and exhibition programme

Published: 26.09.2018

As part of Helfa Gelf’s training and exhibition programme, and as a response to the interest and enthusiasm in the first Edge exhibition and seminar at Arloesi Pontio Innovation, Bangor last November 2017, we have coordinated a new a mentoring and training programme followed by a curated exhibition in Arloesi Pontio Innovation’s White Box Saturday 19th January to Sunday 10th Feb 2019.  Nine artists were chosen to participate.  They had to demonstrate a strong interest in using new technology within their work.

The artists receive support from a mentor Remy Dean and receive training on various technologies delivered by Arloesi Pontio Innovation.

The 9 artists on the program are Alison Mercer, Ann Catrin Evans, David Thomas, Emily Meilleur, Lorna Bates, Pea Restall, Sarah Holyfiel, Stephen Green and Susan Williams.

What do you enjoy most about your role as mentor for the 9 artists?

I went on the induction tour of fabLAB with the artists, which was very inspiring. It also meant I was there with them right from the start on this journey of experimentation and discovery. Using the exciting tech on offer at the fabLAB will add new approaches to their repertoire. They are already a varied bunch in terms of aesthetics and their preferred materials and processes. So, what I think I’ll enjoy most is talking over their concepts and encouraging them to remain true to their vision whilst exploring new media and ways of making.

Please can you comment on the role of the mentorship programme as part of the 9 artists personal professional development, in relation to the brief;

Artists will address questions about the modern world and our human experience within it. Artists will use new technologies to innovate and push boundaries in their creative practice, helping them develop exciting new ways to better address questions about contemporary life.

Like it or not, the human experience is becoming more and more entwined with technologies in our modern world – democracy is becoming swamped by digital hysteria, big data is becoming a doppelganger for the real world. Because there are plenty of negatives, many creatives cling desperately to their traditional approaches and shun new technologies, but there are very many positives. It’s just a matter of how we use the tech, and avoid the tech using us! There’s plenty of potential for the creative experience, both for maker and end-user. The definition between maker and user is becoming very blurred. New creative avenues are appearing that could be very egalitarian and equalising.

In short, how is the programme aiding artist’s professional development?

We don’t know that it will, yet. There is a danger that technologies can homogenise output. A drawing organically records the gesture of the artist’s hand, but it’s very easy for one laser-cut line to look very much like another. With some of the tech becoming almost ubiquitous in art and design, the challenge is to let the individual’s vision and distinctive aesthetic shine through the new media. The poetic aspects could easily be lost in translation. This is a challenge for artists new to such technologies and in the time-scale we have it’ll be a steep learning curve.

The artists selected all have a strong drive and I think are concept-driven, so I have every confidence they will overcome such barriers and start using the tech as a tool, just as one would use a pencil, potter’s wheel, or craft knife. In which case it will be aiding the artists’ professional development by giving them a broader choice of skills, materials and processes, which they can combine with those they have become comfortable with. It should also encourage them to question their individual stance as an artist and open up new ways of thinking creatively. The future is already underway, and these 9 artists will be better prepared for it...

Thanks Remy! We look forward to seeing the results.


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