Exploring the solid and the void at The Meffan

Helen Angell-Preece with one of her exhibits at The Meffan.
Helen Angell-Preece with one of her exhibits at The Meffan.

Dundee artist Helen Angell-Preece is inviting visitors to the Meffan Gallery to not only view her work, but to become involved and become part of it.

In her exhibition ‘Let Yourself Fall (Between the Solid and the Void)’ which opened on Saturday, Helen expands her ongoing fascination with architecture and space, and how place gives us a sense of ourselves ‘being’ here.

She investigates the sculptural concerns of the solid and the void, by dividing the gallery spaces on the ground floor with her architectural constructions, creating a physical journey and experience for themselves.

Sitting alongside her exhibits a video projection enables the visitor to explore the vast, semi-derelict expanse of space of a former Dundee jute mill.

The viewer experiences the space from the camera’s viewpoint, glimpsing the body itself exploring the area - an arm, shoulder or torso, moving through the exaggerated perspective of the industrial scale room.

Helen explores the potentiality of ‘being’ in a space - the feeling of inhabiting/becoming the space and how much this has to do with materiality, boundaries and our own body movement.

She said: “This dual-screen video installation is a record of the last original, remaining floor of the Meadowmill building prior to renovation into artists’ studios in 2011.

“Despite, and perhaps because of, its semi-derelict state, the video footage reveals the beauty inherent in Dundee’s industrial architecture - its symmetry of line, ranks of windows letting light pour onto the pattern of flagstones underfoot and the sheer grandeur of the vaulted roof and expansive scale room.”

In this exploration of the space between architecture and the body, she hopes to question and reveal some of the universal elements with which we make ourselves at ‘home’. How do our own body armature, the structures we build around ourselves, as well as the emotional and historical aspects of place interact to give us our sense of ‘being’ in the world?

Perhaps the answer lies in the space we inhabit, falling somewhere between the solid and the void?

Helen (37) is making a welcome return visit to The Meffan where she was a prize winner in the Winter Exhibition in 2012.

Jim Boon, The Meffan’s curator, offered her a solo show on the back of that win and she has also shown work in group exhibitions at the gallery after graduating.

Helen grew up in Dundee and took her foundation course at Duncan of Jordanstone before moving to London to continue her studies, completing a Diploma in Fashion and Printed Textiles at Central St Martins College of Art and then completing a visual arts textiles course at Goldsmiths College.

It was at this time that she began to explore ‘critical theory’ and the cultural relevant and language of the materials.

Whilst at Goldsmiths she became interested in making installation-based work where one piece of work relates to another and creates a journey with rhythm or colour, rather than a more traditional fine art approach.

On entering the gallery you can view her installations which have been created from a combination of different types of cardboard boxes, reinforced cardboard, paint and packing string, giving a three-dimensional end product.

These temporary materials are most usually associated with movement and migration – here however they take up a dynamic presence and habitation of the gallery.

The distinction between wall and floor, between the stability of the horizontal and the vertical is blurred as these sculptures make a fragmented, rhythmic journey, undermining the perpendicular white planes of the gallery ceiling and walls to rewrite their own form of language - somewhere between the solid and the void.

Helen’s main source of inspiration is how she experiences the built environment, how it feels to walk down a narrow street and emerge into an open expanse of space, or to be enclosed in one space whilst seeing into another.