Hélène Williams

Sweet 'Art

Helene Williams Summer Show artist interview by Louis Orchison

The Universal Binder

The Hindu Express, Ranjan De

Helene Williams, an English sculptress, met a few Indian artists during a camp in Holland – filmmaker Mani Kaul and Meenakshi Mukherjee, a sculptress who specializes in rope as her medium. She liked the way they attributed a lot more meaning to an object than what she was used to hearing in London, her home base.

That is what made her decide to head someplace in India where she could stay awhile, imbibe these values and work new meanings into her work – her sculpture, which till now she had been exploring with latex and ceramics. She came to Cholamandal about two months back, and has been exploring her environs and the new materials available to her.Helene works on themes. That and the material she uses governs the direction her work takes. “I love the texture of rope, its length and the objects it binds. I love the way it traverses over a surface- a comparison of textures. I have been here photographing my space, on the beach and in the village. And the most common binding factor was the way ropes were being used.”

Her works on show at the Cholamandal Guest House are mainly photographic explorations of how her chosen motif interacts with itself and its surroundings. Her exhibition titled ‘Tying the Knot’ encapsulates the concept of ropes as a universal binder. “Its amazing – the geometric patterns of your kolams and the patterns of the weaves in our Celtic knot work have so much in common visually. I guess my fascination for rope could come from that.”

Helene has also explored exploding some imagery by some darkroom manipulation and converting the pictures to high contrast imagery, and then colouring them in layers of photo-ink. There are close-ups of the woodwork of the catamarans, the skin of cows or complicated knots of rope. There are a few pieces of soapstone carved in the shape of a buffalo’s nose with a rope running through it.

‘I’m fascinated presently by the cows and buffalos that I see in the villages. It’s amazing how they seem to know that you couldn’t possibly mistreat them here, they seem to won the road. Back home they only graze in the fields all day. I’m just waiting for the Pongal celebrations when I’ll go lout and shoot the cows all decked up and in colour. I might even shoot those colourful ropes in the hardware stores.”

Helene has been fascinated by the catamarans on the shore near Cholamandal. A large body of her work depicts these. She has extended her explorations to the sacred thread on a Brahmin’s torso. She finds the subject as fascinating as the ropes that bind a cow to its cart.

She is off for a short sojourn to Kerala, but she’ll be back to explore the nuances of her theme and this time perhaps, explore that in the form of sculpture.


The Times, Nicola McHugh

'You could have a great car boot sale here,' a visitor says. And that's just what it used to be - 23,000 sq ft of carbooters. Now the undercroft of St Pancras station is home to one of the capital's oddest art exhibitions, writes Nicola McHugh. Every 20 minutes it is rocked by the trains above - 'the icing on the cake,' according to organiser Michael Czerwinski. Delays over the Channel rail link have allowed the artists to open up the ghostly mass of arches, breeze blocks and corrugated iron. They claered out a ton of books and 200 bags of old clothing, still leaving them enough rubbish to work with: the show explores why some objects have value and others are trash. If no one can find the money for the Channel link, this week's exhibition could turn out to be the birth of Europe's strangest arts venue.