14 November – 9 December 2018

Helen Shelley

The Earth’s Crust. The Baby’s Breath

Helen Shelley’s practice is concerned with capturing transcendent experiences and notions of immortality.   

The Earth’s Crust. The Baby’s Breath holds works inspired by a transcendent image that occurred the night of her father’s death. A vision of light particles emanating from her father’s body which were then subsumed by her own gave a sense that despite her father’s physical demise, he continued to exist in a different form and was thus rendered immortal. Shelley’s practice is an important ritual that brings to mind and honours her late loved ones. It is concerned with the way rituals symbolically immortalise late loved ones and thus ensure our relationship with the dead is vibrant and ongoing. 

Shelley’s more recent works have been inspired by moments of transcendence as experienced through the birth of her children and moments in nature, including abstract representations of geological forms and tree growth rings; both of which hold the very essence of time. This work is concerned with representing life as a continuum and notions of immortality through shared matter. 

Experienced through a personal lens, Shelley hopes these works more significantly bring the oft-avoided topics of death and grief to the fore. Her representations of transcendent moments are concerned with what it is to be human. Ultimately, Shelley’s practice is concerned with how art can be used as an opportunity for human connection.

Helen Shelley lives and works in Sydney. Shelley graduated from the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University with first class honours. In 2015 she graduated from Sydney College of the Arts with a Master of Fine Arts (Painting). She has held solo exhibitions at Grant Pirrie, Flinders Street Gallery, Canberra Contemporary Art Space and has been included in exhibitions at First Draft Gallery, Casula Powerhouse, Rubicon Ari and James Makin Gallery. Shelley has been a finalist in the Churchie and most recently the Blake Prize. Her practice is concerned with developing personal rituals that bring to mind and honour late loved ones, along with capturing moments of the sublime and transcendental as observed in the everyday.

Installation images by Docqment