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HelenA Pritchard

The Homeless Mind

Exhibition at City Racing, Methodist Church, Station Street, Bishops Castle, Shropshire SY9 5AQ

14 - 18 February 2024

PV Saturday 17 February  3-8pm

Exhibition at TJ Boulting

15 March - 13 April 2024

PV Thursday 14 March 6-8pm

TJ Boulting is proud to present The Homeless Mind, a new body of work by HelenA Pritchard which continues her exploration of materials and metaphysical balance. A two-part exhibition, it was first installed at City Racing, a former Methodist chapel in the agricultural town of Bishops Castle, Shropshire, before transferring to the gallery in London. Much of Helen’s work explores dualities, she utilises discarded waste and excess materials of industrial processes in which she sees value, often applying to them processes such as gilding and elevating them formally. So too there is a duality between presenting the same work in two contexts, and her working in two locations from her studio in Brixton, a busy urban hub, and rural Shropshire.

The title The Homeless Mind is taken from the book by Peter L. Berger which looks at the role of modernisation and the decline in our mental capacity for decisions and opinions through the over-exposure of technology. The work in the exhibition echoes this feeling of the mind being transported elsewhere, and the power of the natural world to do this, and the duality of existing alongside the physicality of materials and bodies in space. Most strikingly we encounter three towering ‘Block Heads’, monolithic forms of her scaled-up maquettes and made from offcuts and waste products from building sites, repurposed into looming figures. As you walk among their massive forms, which fill the space and reach almost the entire height of the gallery, there is a sense of the unexpected encounter, the overpowering, even the claustrophobic. The stone-like forms also ask questions as to where they have come from and how did they come to exist, a human intervention, but derived from where? Visually the material and scale imply the heavy and monumental, but the reality is rooted in the everyday and functional of the building site, elevated to greatness, and bringing with it a certain tension in the space.

Wall-based works again use the discarded and everyday, Helen employs materials that have a connection and value to her, that are cultural signifiers. Her language is formal, and refers to her background as a painter, with an emphasis on colour and abstract characteristics. Bands of primary colours and grids at closer inspection reveal themselves to be hessian panels stained with ink, framed with offcuts of wood burnished in bole and gilding, or packaging from luxury goods to fireworks and food. All are artefacts and indicative of our cultural history. “I do not wish to describe something literally, I wish to present questionable feelings and strange observations.”

In the second room of the gallery we encounter the maquettes themselves.  Immediate and effortless juxtapositions of form and material that also  harness a subversive humour in the work, laughing at our chaos and waste through the incorporation of everyday discarded objects - packaging, a snooker ball, chopsticks, nails, paintbrushes - ready-made objects that give the anthropomorphic forms character and mannerisms.  “Using waste materials, off-cuts and excesses of what is around is indicative to our environment. The work is an investigation of modern materials and their reference and connectivity to art history, an exploration of aesthetics of daily life and domesticity. Taking something of no value and giving thought to process by gilding, bronze casting, framing, transforming and rescaling. These opposing principles are about creating balance, a concept of aesthetic beauty which can come from nothing/junk. The dualities within my work can be metaphoric or present. Giving form to the idea and finding a balance between materiality and meaning; this connectivity is part of creating a compositional balance, where all parts must be held together in tension.”


HelenA Pritchard was born in South Africa in 1975 and came to London to study, firstly for a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of East London (2006-2009) and then for an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art (2009-2011), where she was the recipient of the Stanley Spencer Scholarship. Pritchard’s varied artistic practice encompasses painting, sculpture, and installation, centred around a concern with the ecological, and the elevation of discarded detritus and found materials through her work. Helen lives and works between London and Shropshire, the duality between city and country offering a rich and broad landscape of materials and context.

City Racing was an artist-run space in Kennington between 1988-1998. The gallery was in a former betting shop near The Oval cricket ground, hence the derivation of its name. It gave artists access to an independently run, not for profit, project space which showed artists such as Sarah Lucas, Mark Wallinger, Ceal Floyer, Jeremy Deller, Richard Wright, Michael Landy, Keith Coventry, Paul Noble, Barry Flanagan, Gustav Metzger, Fiona Banner and Gillian Wearing amongst others.  In 2001 the artists were reunited in a retrospective of the gallery at the ICA.  On the closing of the gallery in 1998, the Tate Gallery acquired the archive of City Racing.  Tate Modern commissioned a work called City Racing Family Tree for the exhibition Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis held at the Tate Modern in 2001.  Now established in a rural location by Keith Coventry and HelenA Pritchard, it aims to continue with the same ethos.

HelenA Pritchard The Homeless Mind City Racing: Current Exhibitions
HelenA Pritchard The Homeless Mind City Racing: Exhibitions
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