“Have you met your life today?”, giclée print on Hahnemühle cotton rag,2016
Hughes’s work is predominantly sculptural, utilising expendable materials from modern mass production systems. Often developed for specific sites, materiality is central to the work and both found objects and purchased industrial products are utilised. Colour is prominent, in particular colour that is innate to materials.
Reflecting on consumerism, and focusing in particular on the intersection between the individual and the structural within the realm of consumption, Hughes strives to humanise the seemingly dehumanised behaviours linked to materialism. Her materials include polystyrene, wood, and plastic, amongst others. Switching the importance of form over function the component elements are playfully reworked through removal, addition and recasting, to disguise or reveal appearances. Diverted from the homogenous manufacture of industrial products, materials and objects begin to mimic each other and other things. A process of fluid and gestural physical engagement is used to activate ‘machine-finished forms’ and force them out of an inertia.
Just as mass-produced goods are utilised physically, titles are found and borrowed from a number of typically mass-media sources.
Helen Hughes graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, in 1998 with an honours BA in Fine Art.Born and raised in Mayo, she moved back to Ireland, where she completed a Masters in Visual Arts Practices from IADT Dublin in 2007. She has exhibited widely both in Ireland and internationally and her work has received many commendations. Recent shows include a 2-person commissioned show at the new Lexicon Gallery in Dun Laoghaire in February this year, and a group show at the Molesworth Gallery in Dublin in July. Materiality is central to Helen’s practice. She utilises mass produced goods to reflect on consumerism and the exuberance of capitalist production. Striving to represent the hidden materials of industrialism she explicitly switches the importance of form over function in the component elements of her sculptures. Through fluid and gestural physical engagement, Hughes counters the dehumanised behaviour linked to materialism, forcing her materials out of an inertia and endowing them with a more tactile and human sensibility. Hughes is located in Rua Red, Tallaght.