Archive: 2013

Interview at Birkbeck College – UK China Arts seminar

22nd October, 2013

The first meeting bringing together those interested in understanding and developing UK China arts exchanges.

Designing and making the most of a residency as an artist.
Negotiations and exchanges between stakeholders and national cultural tastes.
Objectives and realities of running a residency programme.

Saturday 2nd November. 10.30am Registration. 11.00am Presentations. Lunch provided. 4.30pm Drinks reception. Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck College, University of London. Tickets £14

UK China Arts

Presentations by:

11.20 Dr Martin Welton – Senior Lecturer, Theatre and Performance, Queen Mary University of London. With Gisele Edwards – Musician, aerialist, theatre maker
Richard Layzell – London-based artist

13.45 Helen Couchman – interviewed by Bill Aitchison

14.30 Sarah Fisher – Director, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester. With Zhu Miyi


Untitled (Collecting and Dropping) No.52

Talk – The Horizontal and the Vertical

12th February, 2013

The Horizontal and the Vertical

I will briefly introduce myself as an artist who has led self-initiated residencies working in Beijing and then in New York. I will speak about ‘The horizontal and the vertical’ and show slides of my work and others that relate to my theoretical and methodological approach.

I will examine my deliberate transition from Beijing to New York and how this very recent phase in my work has informed my thinking and practice. I will explore and expand upon ideas of what I call a fantasy landscape specific to these places. The usefulness of a fantasy being that it may hold a more apolitical stance and that it need not be tied to current moral or idealised constraints.

My work explores the surreal side effects resulting from the rapid changes travelling between these landscapes. Thinking through how these two cities have evolved and how each community has decided upon what is to be kept and what is to be discarded in the fabric of their existence. What is kept and what is disregarded in terms of land use. Restoration practice, which sees old buildings being demolished and new streets being built in the style of the old. The importance of maintaining traditions and how control and ownership of land is made manifest.
The role of the fantasy both in terms of where communities originate and where these ‘future cities’ may take us.

IMG_6150 Outside the library, NYC. © Helen Couchman
Outside the Library. New York City

Processes of exchange in the landscapes of Beijing and New York. Mapping change, preservation and demolition.

My area of investigation is into the reciprocity and exchange between inhabitants, business, architects and governments who develop environments, change cities and thus society’s behaviour. I am interested in exploring utopian ideas of developing communities and what the communities have to relinquish in order to move towards what is frequently promised to be an improved future.
I am interested in land and cityscapes where the view is fast changing and in exploring the reasons for, and immediate outcome of, such dramatic changes.

In 2009 for the first time more than fifty percent of the world’s population lived in cities.

Helen Couchman January, 2012

Talk at 2.30pm, UAL, London College of Fashion, Tuesday 12th February

Albumen and salt photographic printing

21st January, 2013

21st-24th January, albumen and salt photographic printing course. Followed by a day in archive with head archivist Joe Struble. At George Eastman House, Rochester, USA.

Joe Struble, archivist at The George Eastman Archive, Rochester, USA

Joe Struble at George Eastman House