Ruth at Sissinghurst. Painting, ‘Choosing’ of actress Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) by her husband George Frederick Watts (1817–1904). © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Sue’s star, Mississippi River, Wisconsin
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.
Extract from the essay:
Living as an artist in Beijing on an open-ended mostly self-generated residency, UK artist Helen Couchman independently navigated the construction site for the Bird’s Nest Stadium in December 2007 before the 2008 Olympics where she asked construction workers to pose for 143 haunting photographic portraits whose anonymous faces look out of her resulting book capturing a moment of intense reality in a feverishly rebranding city. (1)
Couchman’s London exhibition last year ‘Cloud series, Yellow lining’ was inspired by a journey above the Beijing skyline: ‘The inadvertent starting point for these works was ….noticing, as the plane in which (I) was travelling descended towards the as yet unrevealed Beijing metropolis, a thin layer of bright yellow cloud, delineating a relatively fine line of material through which the aircraft quickly passed. From the ground nothing of this curious narrow band was visible, only a clear blue sky. There is some irony here in the application of the English expression ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, which suggests that everything bad has its positive, if perhaps at first hidden, aspect. In the present case the matter is reversed, the clear blue of the sky being discreetly penetrated by an invisible layer of tangerine haze. It is difficult to see the ‘silver lining’ in this ominous yellow vision.‘ (2)
(1) WORKERS 工人 (Soloshow Publishing, 2008)
(2) Cloud series, Yellow lining 2009
‘Sheltering from the Storm-Artistic Residencies and Environmental Change’
Published in Leonardo Journal Transactions, March 2011. Written by Bronac Ferran, Royal College of Art, London
‘Picturing Beijing.’ Helen Couchman will be talking about her work at The Beijing Bookworm International Literary Festival 2011. Tuesday, 15th March, 10pm.
‘Snow gate, Heilongjiang Province, Northern China’