Tag Archives: Mrs. West’s Hats

Talk at The Allen Gallery

24th May, 2016

7.30pm, Thursday, 26th May. An illustrated talk and book signing by Helen Couchman about her grandmother and her hats. Mrs. West’s Hats and an essay about the work are published in a hardback book by the same name.

Talk tickets, £5 obtainable at the gallery.

Mrs West’s Hats the exhibition runs between Thursday 2 – 30 June. Open Tuesday – Saturday from 10.30am – 4.30pm. Entry is free.

Allen Gallery
10-12 Church Street
Alton, Hampshire
01420 82802

www.HelenCouchman.com
www.SoloshowPublishing.com
www.HampshireCulturalTrust.org.uk

Talk , Mrs Wests Hats at the Allen Gallery by Helen Couchman

Mrs. West’s Hats exhibition

17th May, 2016

Press Release

Mrs West of Binsted was a resourceful lady. She was expected to accompany her husband to many important social events, including garden parties at Buckingham Palace. But cloth was rationed, so instead of a new outfit she wore a different hat for each occasion.   Some she bought and others she made herself so that each time it looked as though she was wearing a new outfit.

After Mrs West’s death, her granddaughter Helen Couchman, who had by now qualified with a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Critical Fine Art Practice, collected together the hats – there were over 60 of them – and photographed herself in the style of the time wearing them and also her grandmother’s original make-up. She then turned the resulting photographs into an artwork which she named ‘Mrs West’s Hats’.

And now ‘Mrs West’s Hats’ is to be exhibited in Alton’s Allen Gallery in June. The exhibition is preceded on May 26th by an illustrated talk by Helen Couchman herself about her grandmother, her hats and what they reveal about life and fashion in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Helen says: ‘My grandmother was a most influential person in my childhood. In my eyes, she was creative, sharply intelligent and ceaselessly loyal towards me. She was most interested in the future – my future. When I tried on her hats I clearly remembered her. Each hat reminded me of a different aspect of my feelings towards her.’

Helen has exhibited ‘Mrs West’s Hats’ in galleries all over the world, but she is particularly pleased that her work is to be shown in Alton, so close to her grandmother’s old home. Indeed, Helen herself lived in Binsted for three years and attended Binsted Primary School, so the occasion will bring back even more memories to her. She commented: ‘It will be great to show my project in the area where my grandmother lived. It means a lot to me.’

The exhibition ‘Mrs West’s Hats’ runs at the Allen Gallery, 10-12 Church Street, Alton between Thursday 2nd and Thursday 30th June. The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. and entry is free. The talk ‘Mrs West’s Hats, the life and times of my Binsted grandmother’ takes place at the Allen Gallery at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday 26th May. Tickets, obtainable at the gallery or on 01420 82802, cost £5 to include light refreshments. Both events also feature on the website of Hampshire Cultural Trust, www.hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk, while further information about Helen Couchman’s work can be found on www.helencouchman.com. ‘Mrs. West’s Hats’ and an essay about the work are published in a hardback book costing £12, ISBN 9780956017208, available in the Allen Gallery shop and online at www.SoloshowPublishing.com

Talk and book signing at INIVA

7th October, 2014

Update 08/10/14: Event sold out at the end of the day.

sell out talk at INIVA October 2014

 

07/10/14
Talk and book signing with Helen Couchman at INIVA, London

Stuart Hall Library’s Research Network at INIVA

Institute of International Visual Arts

With Dr. Caroline Bressey , Dr. Gemma Romain and artist Helen Couchman.
Thu 16 October, 6.30-8pm
Stuart Hall Library
Rivington Place
London EC2A 3BA

Dr. Caroline Bressey and Dr. Gemma Romain will present on their research and curation with Tate Britain of the current display ‘BP Spotlight: Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919–39’.

Artist Helen Couchman will be talking about her first two books, WORKERS (Gong Ren)’ and ‘Mrs. West’ Hats’ which will be available to buy.

Talk and book signing with Helen Couchman at INIVA, London

Artist Helen Couchman will be talking about her first two books, ‘WORKERS (Gong Ren)’ and ‘Mrs. West’s Hats’. She will present the books and describe how her surroundings prompted each project. WORKERS her first book is a portrait of Chinese migrant workers building the Olympic Stadiums in Beijing in 2007/08. Her second book “Mrs. West’s Hats is a memorial piece about her late grandmother. The projects explore themes of repetition, participation, portraiture, self-portraiture and the role of photography as a record and a celebration.

Further information can be found at www.helencouchman.com

Helen Couchman moved to London to study first a BA and then an MA in Fine Art. More recently she was invited to do a period of PhD research into her own practice ending in 2012.Couchman lived in China for nearly seven years and during her time there exhibited in Hong Kong and numerous times in Beijing as well as back in the UK and in New York. Previously she had often produced new bodies of work while working abroad, Cyprus (2003), Armenia (2004), Vermont (2005) and China (2006). She worked in New York City on new work relating to that city and Beijing (2012/2013).
Couchman will be artist in residence at The Asia Society and is planning an exhibition at CFCCA, Manchester both in 2015. She is currently based out of the UK and working in Oman on her third book.

                                           —————

Dr. Caroline Bressey and Dr. Gemma Romain will present on their research and curation with Tate Britain of the current display ‘BP Spotlight: Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919-39′. The display brings together artworks which demonstrate the trans-national exchange between artists from diverse ethnic backgrounds during the inter-war years. The artworks were selected from the Tate Collection and public and private collections. Between the wars, a cosmopolitan network of artists exchanged ideas in London’s art colleges, studios and clubs. They were instrumental in shaping the cultural and political identity of the city.
Caroline and Gemma are researchers at the Equiano Centre at University College London. The Centre was founded to support research into the Black Presence in Britain. Spaces of Black Modernism builds on research from the Drawing Over the Colour Line project.

Dr. Caroline Bressey is a lecturer in the Department of Geography, UCL. Her research focuses upon recovering the historical geographies of the black community in Victorian Britain, especially London. Parallel to this are her interests in ideas of race, racism, early anti-racist theory and identity in Victorian society. A large part of her research uses photography and this interest led her to collaborate with the National Portrait Gallery, London, on the representation of black and Asian people in their collections. She has worked as a curator with the National Portrait Gallery and Museum in Docklands.
Dr. Gemma Romain is a historian who researches Caribbean and Black diasporic history. Research Associate for the AHRC funded project ‘Drawing over the Colour Line’.
Vera Douie Fellow at the Women’s Library, documenting interwar Black histories within the collections. Leverhulme Early Career fellowship at Newcastle University, project entitled ‘Negotiating Slavery and Freedom: petitioning and protest in the nineteenth century British Caribbean’. She has worked for various museums and archives including The National Archives UK and the National Maritime Museum. She has taught at Birkbeck College, University of London on the subject of Black hidden histories in museum and archival collections.

www.iniva.org/library/news/research_network_meeting_october_2014 

Helen Couchman Talk at INIVA, Omani Women 2015