South East Wales

Venice Biennale art show: Helen Sear to represent Wales

Work by Helen Sear Image copyright Helen Sear
Image caption Helen Sear's work crosses over from photography to fine art

A Newport-based photographer will be the first woman to represent Wales in a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

Helen Sear, whose work crosses over between photography and fine art, has been chosen for the event described as the Olympics of contemporary art in 2015.

The Arts Council of Wales (ACW) said there was growing acclaim for her "high quality, conceptually rigorous work".

Ms Sear said it had long been her ambition to represent Wales in Venice.

Confirming her selection, the ACW said her work "shows particular maturity and sophistication, seamlessly moving between expanded notions of photography, sculpture and video, with the artist exhibiting great command of different materials and production processes".

Based at the University of South Wales in Newport, Ms Sear was joint winner of the visual art prize at the 2011 National Eisteddfod.

"Having lived and worked in Wales since 1984, the opportunity to be part of Wales in Venice has been an ambition of mine for several years," she said.

"The photographic image in art practice has never been so diverse or contested and, with the acceleration of new digital technologies, the material presence of the image is now more than ever at stake."

Image copyright Helen Sear
Image caption Helen Sear is based at the University of South Wales in Newport
Image copyright Helen Sear
Image caption She says digital advances are having an impact on "the material presence of the image"

Louise Wright, ACW commissioner for Wales in Venice, said the council was "very excited" to be working with Ms Sear and Ffotogallery, the national development agency for photography which will curate the exhibition.

"Wales in Venice 2015 is a significant opportunity to develop and present new work at the world's most prestigious international event for the visual arts," she added.

The Venice Biennale has been seen as an important showcase for contemporary art from Wales since 2003 when the country was first represented.

Bethan Huws, Laura Ford and Heather Morrison have been involved in previous Welsh contributions, but Ms Sear will be the first woman to represent Wales with a solo collection.

Musician and artist John Cale is also among those to have represented Wales in Venice.

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