Tag Archives: UK

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

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-©-Helen-Couchman-web-c

Untitled (Collecting and Dropping) No.52

Art.Zip magazine, Issue 5. 2012, including ‘Special Feature, Helen Couchman’

20th October, 2012

As a lone traveller, the English artist Helen Couchman arrived in Beijing via Moscow on the Trans-Mongolian railway in 2006. She arrived into a city that was as familiar to her as it was foreign. Taking a small flat near Gulou, she has since made Beijing her home, making work in her flat and using studios around Beijing and in the UK as needs must. In the spirit of the flaneur, Couchman finds herself walking through Beijing at night, lost in the city that found her. Couchman sent us the following photographic essay from Beijing, arranged “as I would pin images up on my studio wall as I work; to serve as references for my drawings and printmaking.” 

Special edition with guest Editors: Dr. Trish Lyons and Monica Chung

Art.Zip Issue 5 also features: Song Dong, Geoff Dyer, Issac Julien, Margarita Gluzberg amongst others. ART.ZIP is the first bilingual contemporary art magazine dedicated to bringing together the world of art in the UK and China. 

page 90

page 91 (UCCA, 798, Beijing, poster feat. ‘Self portrait with long life earrings‘)

page 92

page 93

page 94

page 95

page 96

page 97

page 98

page 99

For the magazine page spreads see here

Art Zip listing RCA library. With Dr Trish Lyons and Helen Couchman

As the first non-Chinese guest editor of the bi-lingual contemporary art magazine Art Zip Lyons compiled and commissioned a selection of texts, interviews and reviews focusing on the theme of translation. The issue was designed to physically and conceptually hinge around a Chinese caligrapic translation of Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘Chinese Curios’, highlighting cultural differences through the context of graphic layout and bi-lingual texts.
As well as overseeing the overall layout of the issue, Lyons guided the translation of‘Chinese Curios’ an essay by Geoff Dyer and an interview with Song Dong. She commissioned the cover art work and a photo essay on Beijing nightlife by Helen Couchman. In addition to her editorial work, Lyons commissioned a special edition fold out print by the artist Margarita Gluzberg and wrote an accompanying essay, ‘Her Dark Materials’. In this essay, Lyons unpacks the artist’s term of the ‘consumystic’, a hybrid concept that conflates, desire, consumption and the mystical. Exploring the dynamic and material processes that drive Gluzberg’s practice, Lyons draws together literary characters to communicate the dynamics at work in Gluzberg’s photographs.
25,000 copies of the special edition of Art Zip were distributed throughout museums in China including Today Art Museum, National Museum of China, National Museum of China, Beijing, Inside-Out Art Museum, Sichuan Art Museum, Tianjin Art Museum, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Guangdong Museum of Arts, Shanghai Doulun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai Zhengda Museum and Minsheng Art Museum. The issue is held in the library collections of the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University, China Central Academy of Fine Arts, China Academy of Fine Art, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and Luxun Academy of Fine Arts.

‘WORKERS 工人’ on exhibit in Beijing featured in Accademia Apulia News

17th April, 2012

Helen Couchman’s work on show in Beijing

In December 2007 Helen Couchman, member of Accademia Apulia UK, photographed a large group of Chinese workers engaged in the construction work of the 2008 Olympic park. Couchman chose a specific group of labourers, employed to build the iconic ‘bird’s nest’ stadium and the Olympic swimming pool. 

The 143 portraits that resulted are contained in an amazing book WORKERS. Between 11th of April and 8th May 2012 thirty portraits from the WORKERS series will be on show at swanky Yihe Hotel in the Chaoyang district of Beijing. The portraits will be part of a group exhibition, Heyi 798 Art Project, curated by renowned curatorial duo Wong Jun and He Bing. 

The group exhibition, under the wing of Gabriela Salgado (formerly Curator of Public Programmes at The Tate Modern) will include some one hundred established artists showing an interesting sample of eclectic creativity. 

For more information about the series ‘WORKERS’ see www.helencouchman.com 

For more information about the project in book form see, ‘WORKERS’ see www.soloshowpublishing.com

The Heyi 798 Art Project will be on show until 8th May 2012 at the Yihe Hotel, 9 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Dashanzi, Chaoyang District, Beijing.

 www.accademiapulia.org