“The experiment is everything”: HelenA Pritchard at 1961 Projects
For her first showcase in Singapore, HelenA Pritchard worked with 1961 Projects on an exhibition titled 2. We caught the London-based South African artist whilst she was in town, and she told us about her works, practice and influences whilst growing up.
HelenA Pritchard (b. 1975, Durban, South Africa) lives and works in London, UK. She completed her MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2011 and received the Stanley Spencer Scholarship. In 2017, she won the inaugural Evening Standard Hiscox Painting Prize. Her recent solo exhibitions include Not the Actual Size, Hospital Club, London (2018), Show, Studio, London (2017), Encounters, TJ Boulting, London (2016).
“Growing up in South Africa, it was a lot about
what women could and could not do.
Women did embroidery, women were teachers, and women were nurses."
“I like all of these everyday materials that we kind of overlook as well.”
“A lot of my work takes from local culture and everyday things.
These objects are ignobled, and given a higher status, by being cast in a different material and bringing them into art.
I remember having these pictures on our wall being hung along a piece of velvet ribbon. I always found them so strangely curious. They'd even have a bit of pottery on, with a bit of dried flowers. In a way, I think that informs my way of hanging things."
“I really like the colours here in Singapore. It's very Art Deco.
I'd go to different cities and places and see that there's a tonal difference between the colours used. It's possibly because of differences in light, but it's been fascinating.
I see some sculptures coming up from here as well."
“Modernism in Africa is not ever really mentioned, but we have this wonderful artist that I really love, Esther Mahlangu. She's just had a show in Johannesburg with Yoko Ono, and she's obviously very famous.
Her paintings started off on buildings and walls, and functioned almost like the writing on the wall, but in block colours and modern shapes. She's been working for a long time, but that part of modernism is not really documented in Africa. I think that people tend to forget women and Africa quite a bit, even though it's having its heyday now, there's still no conversation between the Modernist sculptors and [their female African counterparts].
“The intention probably comes after as a way of learning and studying, and that's quite interesting for me.
I like writing about my work, and finding the most obscure parts of it — be it historical or contextual. As I'm making the work, I'm projecting thoughts and ideas onto the work as well. It's a kind of game as well. I see everything as connected.
Everything is part of my art. My art is my life."
HelenA Pritchard: 2 is now open at 1961 Projects.
The exhibition will run until 22 September 2018.
For more information regarding the exhibition, visit 1961 Project's Facebook page.