Helen Sear


Helen Sear (b.1955) studied Fine Art at Reading University and the Slade School, University College London. Her work came to prominence in the 1991 British Council exhibition De-Composition: Constructed Photography in Britain, which toured extensively throughout Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Helen Sear’s work explores the materiality of vision, often combining hand drawn or erased elements with photography to disrupt the conventional fixed-point perspective associated with the medium. She also works with moving image and mixed media installations.

Sear was the first woman to represent Wales with a solo exhibition at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015.

Her works are in several private and public collection, including National Museum Wales, Glynn Vivian Museum and Gallery Swansea Wales, Ernst & Young, Victoria and Albert Museum, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Great Britain and the British Council.

Selected Works

Biography / CV


Born in 1955, Wales, UK.



2009             PhD by publication University of Wales Newport

1981-1983 University College London Slade School, HDFA

1975-1979   University of Reading Fine Art Department, BA (hons) 1st Class



Solo exhibitions

2019             A Hiding Place in Waking Dreams, Pennings Foundation, Eindhoven, Sweden

2018             Prospect refuge hazard 1, Dalby Forest, Ryedale Folk Museum, Crescent Arts, United Kingdom
Prospect refuge hazard 2, Hestercombe House Taunton, Somerset, United Kingdom
Fascination, Martin Asbæk Gallery, København, Denmark
2017             New Photographs​ : Klompching, New York
2015             …the rest is smoke ​: representing Wales at the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy
2014             Pastoral Monuments : ​Rencontres Internationales, Gaspésie, Canada
2013             Lure, ​Oriel Davies, National Touring Exhibition, Newton, United Kingdom
2012             Sightlines, ​Klompching Gallery, New York, USA
Beyond The View​, BildKultur, Stuttgart, Germany
2011             Pond, ​Crescent Arts, Scarborough, United Kingdom
2010             Beyond The View​, ​Klompching, New York, USA
2009             Beyond The View​, ​Hoopers Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Display, g39, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Inside The View, Klompching Gallery, New York, USA
2007             Plantasia, LOCWS International, Sweansea, United Kingdom
2006             Inside the View, Gallery Harmonia, Jyvaskyla, Finland
2005             Grounded, ​Leeds Metropolitan Gallery, Leeds, United Kingdom
2004             Inside the View, Le Parvis, Tarbes, France
2003             Grounded​, Impressions Gallery, Bradford, United Kingdom
Spot​, Yard Gallery, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Hide​, Ffotogallery, Cardiff, Wales
2002             Light Seeking Transparency ​ArtLab 17, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
2000             The Whole Story, Maidstone Library and Museum, Maidstone, United Kingdom
Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Axel Thieme Galerie, Darmstadt, Germany
Unsettlement, Zinc gallery, Stockholm, Sweden
1999             Between There and Now​, Impressions Gallery, Bradford, United Kingdom
Twice… Once, Angel Row, Nottingham, United Kingdom
1998             Twice… Once, Anderson O’Day, London, United Kingdom
1997             Unseen, ​Rack Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Moments Apart, Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London, United Kingdom

1994 – 96    Gone to Earth​ : John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh;

Ffotogallery, Cardiff; Montage Gallery, Derby, United Kingdom
1992             Threshold, Gray Gallery, North Carolina, USA

1985             Between Us​, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Wales

1983             Some kind of balance​, Battersea Arts Centre, Women in Art Education Conference

1980             ICA Staircase Project, installation


Group exhibitions

2019             Silent Green, Villa Renata, Basel, Switzerland

IN VIVO Tempo, Nooderlicht House of Photography, Groningen, Netherlands

2018             Galerie Pennings Eindhoven

Is This Planet Earth? Ty Pawr Wrexham, Aberyatwyth Arts Centre

Women in Focus, National Museum Wales

2017             [AN-]SICHTENVOM UMGANG MIT DER WIRKLICHKEIT, DZ BANK Kunstsammlung, Frankfurt

The Moon and a Smile​ : Glynn Vivian Museum and Art Gallery Swansea
2015             LOOK / 15 : ​Victoria Gallery and Museum Liverpool

Double Take: Photography and the Garden : ​Hestercombe Gallery Somerset

A selection of Pavilions : Artists of the Venice Biennale.​ Town Hall de’ Paauw,               Wassenaar
2014             Royal Academy Summer Exhibition ​London

About Face : ​Klompching Gallery, New York

2012             A World Away : ​Dyrham Park Gloucestershire

New Perspectives: Landscape Art in Wales since the 1970s : ​National Museum Wales

Hijacked 111 : ​Quad, Derby, ​Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Australia, ​Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane ​ACP, Sydney

2011             Portmanteau : ​Halle 14 Leipzig

Paris Photo : ​Aperture Foundation New York

National Eisteddfod : ​Wrexham, Wales

Mostyn Open : ​Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales
2010             We Have The Mirrors, We Have The Plans ​: Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales

Nothing Is In The Place : ​Krakow (Photo month)

2008/2009   (Not) a Photograph​ : Obaine Galerije Piran, Slovenia

2008             same as it ever was​ : Chelsea Future Space, London (catalogue)

The Change​ : KvadraT Gallery, St Petersburg, Russia
2007             Tamed and Framed : ​Harris Museum and Gallery, Preston
2006             Ayermanana​ : Faculty Fine Arts, Cuenca, Spain

Landed​ : FSM Gallery, Florence, Italy
Forest Dreaming :​ Institute for Contemporary Art in Nature

Z15 :​ Museum of Fine Arts, St Petersburg, Florida

2005             La Mirada Reflexiva :​ Espai D’Art Contemporani de Castellon, Spain (with Robert Longo and Perejaume )

2004             About Face​ : Hayward Gallery, London

Je t’envisage, la disparition du portrait :​ Musée de L’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerlandm Polaroid : ​39, London

Big Tits Rule​ : 1000,000 mph Project Space London

2003             Cara a Cara​, Culturgest, Lisbon, Portugal

Photo Espagna​, Madrid, Spain
2002             Unscene :​ Gasworks, London

Soul Windows​ : Domo Baal, London
2001             Gone Missing​ : Frederieke Taylor Gallery, 535 West 22nd, New York.

Solid State​ : Kettles Yard, Cambridge
2000             Tierisch :​ Galerie Ahlers, Göttingen, Germany

UK Art 2000​ : Almstrasse Mitte, Berlin

Before Now…and After​ : The Clock House, Clerkenwell

The Wreck of Hope​ : Nunnery Gallery, London

Group show​ : Axel Thieme Galerie, Darmstadt

Chora​ : Underwood Street, London
1999             Beweise einer Existenz​ : Kunstraum Siegert, Basel, Switzerland
1998             Here to Stay​ : Arts Council of England purchases from the 1990’s

Other Worldly​ : Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London

Inside​ : Artlab project at Imperial College, London
1997             A Quality of Light​ : Office of Art project, Tate Gallery, St. Ives
1996             Myth & Landscape​ : Delphi, Greece (commissioned)
1995             Blindfield​ : Coventry Gallery, London
1994             Lustre​ : Tower Bridge Piazza, London
1993             Arte E Altro​ : Giovanni Artisti, Rome, Italy (catalogue)

Full Circle​ : Mostra British School at Rome (catalogue)

Photographs​ : Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London

Moments of Capture​ : 2 person show, Museum of Modern Art, Skopje, Macedonia

Writing and Difference : ​Galerie B, Istanbul (catalogue)

Indivisible​ : Valencia, Spain and Southampton City Art Gallery
1992             Volcano : ​Oriel, Cardiff (catalogue); Street Level Gallery, Glasgow

Once Removed​ : Anderson O’Day Gallery, London (two person show)
1991             Pivot​ : Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno and Philadelphia (catalogue)

Barrage​ : Ffotogallery, Cardiff

A Place for Art​ : The Showroom, London

Decomposition : ​Constructed British Photography: British Council touring

Latin America (catalogue)

1990             Summer Show :​ Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London, United Kingdom
1989             Greenhouse/Yellow Lemon : ​Two installations in collaboration with Sharon


Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff; Spacex, Exeter; Chisenhale Gallery, London,

United Kingdom

Late Night Window Shopping​ : Roath Park Greenhouse, Cardiff
1988             Transformations​ : Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff

1987             In Perpetuity​ : ‘New Arts Consort’
1986             Eight Days​ : Midland Group, Nottingham; Zap Club, Brighton
1985             Diving for Pearls and Playing with Fire​ : National Film Festival

After a Fashion​ : Camerawork, London, United Kingdom
1984             Stress Redress​ : London Film-Makers Co-op, Arts Council
1982             The Power and the Glory​ : ICA Young Contemporaries


Selected collections

Al Dabbah Group. Arts Council of Wales. Arts Council of Great Britain. British Council. British Council, Rome. British Telecom. Bupa. Department of Trade and Industry. Ernst & Young. Glynn Vivian Museum and Gallery Swansea Wales. National Museum Wales. Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery. Manfred Heiting. Collection Museum of Fine. Arts Houston. Paul Wilson Collection. Reader’s Digest Collection. South Glamorgan County Council. Tetrapak. Texaco Collection. Unilever. Victoria and Albert Museum – Z Portfolio. Virgin Communications Collection


Awards and scholarship

2014             Selected to represent Wales at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015

2013             The Wakelin Award for video Chameleon: contemporary art collection Glyn Vivian Art

Gallery and Museum

2012             Inside The View nominated for best international photography book at Photo Espagna

2011             Joint first prize Visual Art at National Eisteddfod

2011             Major Creative Wales Award, Arts Council Wales

2004             Arts Council and University of Sunderland International Photography Fellowship,
Jyvaskyla Finland

1996             Artist in Residence, Electronic Imaging, Oxford Brookes University

1993             Abbey Awardee, British School at Rome


Bibliography & Reviews

2015             …the rest is smoke: monograph published by Ffotogallery, Cardiff / Wales in Venice
‘Perspectives on Place: Theory and practise in landscape photography’ J.A.P.

Alexander, Bloomsbury Publishing, London

2013             Brisées: Bookwork published by GOST

2012             Inside the View: monograph published by Ffotogallery, Cardiff

Hijacked 3, Australia/United Kingdom, Big City Press, Western Australia

2011             Aperture, May 2011, with text by Jason Evans

2010             The New Yorker : May 24th Vince Aletti

2009             Portfolio: 50th edition

Frieze: http://www.frieze.com/shows/review/helen_sear/

Hotshoe International: Peggy Roalf

Tale Bookwork published by g39 Cardiff. Text David Chandler.

2006             Face. The New Photographic Portrait. Thames and Hudson

Stilled. published by IRIS and Ffotogallery

2005             Photoworks Journal Autumn /Winter 2005-2006. Text David Campany

Work in Progress Published by IPRN

2003             Masquerade Published by Ffotogallery. Text Caryn Faure Walker

Guardian review ‘Beauty and the beast’, Alfred Hickling August 21st

Spot; published by Yard Gallery text: Stuart Cameron

Art Monthly (November) Martin Herbert

2002             “Natural’s Not in It” John Slyce Portfolio no. 35

2001             Twice published by Zelda Cheatle Press essays by David Bate and Sharon


“Solid State” Kettles Yard Cambridge

2000             The Whole Story: Published by Photoworks.

Hotshoe International May/June Jean Wainwright.

1999             Public Sightings Cornerhouse Publications

BJP 18.8.99 Grace Lau interview

“Chora” catalogue. Sue Hubbard and Simon Morley

Contemporary Visual Art No 24. Hugh Stoddart.

1998             “Here to stay: Arts Council Collection purchases of the 1990’s” catalogue;

Hayward Gallery Publishing Ltd, London

Art Monthly No.216 Valerie Reardon

Contemporary Visual Arts Issue 17. Sue Hubbard

1997             Time Out Nov 12th Martin Herbert

Art Newspaper, June Richard Prinsent

Time Out, June 11th-18th Sue Hubbard.

1995             Coil – Journal of the moving image, no. 2

Portfolio magazine No 22. Caryn Faure Walker

Creative Camera, Russell Roberts

“Untitled”, Stuart Cameron

A & D “The Contemporary Sublime” A & D “The Photographic Image”

“Gone to Earth” John Hansard Gallery Southampton

1993             Creative Camera, CC25

Arts Review, January (Critics Choice)

City Limits, 7th January, Robin Dutt

Time Out, 30th December to 6th January, Sarah Kent

1992             Women’s Press Diary

1992             Art Vu, Contemporary South Eastern Visual Arts, vol. 6 U.S.A

1991             Creative Camera, CC12, Carol McKay

1989             Arts Review, July

1980             Flash Art (Britain), no 100 Marc Chaimowicz