Date(s) - 06/10/2019 - 16/11/2019
Courthouse Arts Centre
Opening: 6 October at 4pm.
Carlow resident Helen Robbins brings her latest work to the Courthouse Arts Centre this October.
She studied Fine Art, Printmaking and Art Therapy in the UK and moved here in 2000.
Her Current Artistic Practise
My work is informed by the timeless themes and shadowy visual imagery found in Fairytales. In these stories, ‘The Forest’ lies beyond the bounds of the familiar world. ‘The Forest’ episode is referred to only briefly even though it is likely to be the most significant part of the story; the departure from the known into the unknown. It is a place of fragility and wonder – but also a place of fear, darkness, alone-ness.
‘The Forest’ represents “an outlying realm… which has allowed civilization to estrange itself, enchant itself, terrify itself… to project into the forests’ shadows its secrets and anxieties.” (Forests: The Shadow of Civilization:Robert Pogue Harrison).
The forest alters time and space. Its alchemical process creates constant, dynamic change. It holds memories and evokes a sense of mystery. It contains metaphors for our deeply personal narratives, and, conversely, its destruction can be seen as a metaphor for the loss of our connection with these aspects of ourselves. My work reflects my solitary wanderings in this unpredictable environment. I gather imagery of my own experience of this place and its multi-layered meaning. There is uncertainty about what lies beyond. There is no obvious way forward.
A profound sense of loss has grown in me while engaging in this work as natural forests continue to be destroyed. My focus is shifting to my unborn great granddaughter. I feel a deep sadness when I think of her. I want to give her back her natural forests.
My most pressing work is to try to preserve the memory of these life-giving places, their extraordinary beauty, mystery and vibrancy, and their centrality in our future survival. I am gathering images of wild places; recording what may be lost. I have started to grow oaks for her, watching my newly planted acorns as they start to emerge; tiny, fragile, beautiful, their detail only visible through my camera lens.
This work is on-going and will continue to develop. Underlying it is a deep commitment and a growing sense of urgency as our trees are systematically destroyed.
Currently I am working using photography and soft sculpture.
Native trees cover just 2% of Ireland; the lowest native woodland cover in Europe. (Irish Times, July 18 2019)
Wicklow County Council was the first county to declare a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency.
Wicklow also has twice the national native woodland cover, at 4%.
For further information on her work www.helenirobbins.com
Image credit: Helen Robbins.