Silk Top Hat Gallery

Contemporary art gallery providing a showcase for original British paintings, prints, sculpture and crafts in Ludlow town centre. Open Tuesday – Saturday 11.00 am – 4.00 pm.

Helen Cass

Next exhibition: 17th October – 12th November 2016

CASS, Helen Blog16

We have been showing Helen Cass’s work since 1999 but in those early days under her maiden name of Williams.  During the time we have shown her work, she has explored variations of deceptively simple abstracts made from criss-crossed lines in ink creating shimmering concoctions of blacks, whites and greys.  She has continued to make work using simple means; folding, stitching, piercing, and pinching canvas which is then stretched over wooden frames.  With the help of a Herefordshire Creative Industries Grant in 2007, she has been developing her work in resin, concrete and clay.  Her last solo show here was in 2014.

Richard Noyce reflecting on the ‘exceptional purity and rigour’ of her work, offers the following introduction, ‘Helen Cass works in a studio that was formerly part of a village smithy…Her childhood and youth were spent in this area and she still lives close by, travelling within that beautiful landscape on a regular basis…  It is through an exploration of some of her roots that a closer understanding of her work comes about.  While at first glance her work may appear to be coolly abstract, derived from straightforward formulas of proportion and tone, the truth is somewhat different, linking to rural traditions and family history as well as to the deep relationship with the landscape and the turn of the seasons.  Her working processes are those of the artist; nonetheless they are in a direct line from those that sustained very different patterns of work and the way of life in the former generations of her family…

‘Growing up in a small village in the border lands Helen is the fifth generation to know the farm worked by her mother’s family.  The pervading culture was an agrarian Methodist one, centred on the rituals of non-conformist religious practice and the cycles of the farming year.  The Christian ethic of “Put your hands to work and your minds to God”, taken to a near-perfect extreme in the artefacts of the Shaker sect, runs deep within such societies and is evidenced in the way in which things are done.  Amongst the first aesthetic experiences that Helen can recall are, “Linen cupboards stacked high and deep with white starched, ironed and folded, table cloths and other household items” and “Ploughed soil, furrows following the contours of the land, borders and hedges.”’

Helen Cass (née Williams) was born in Ludlow in 1974.  She attended Herefordshire College of Art and Design and the Ruskin School in Oxford.  From 1998-1999 she studied at the School of Art, University of Wales, Aberystwyth funded by a bursary from the British Academy and was awarded an M.A. with distinction.

She has exhibited widely and recent exhibitions include ‘Picture This’ at the Bargehouse, London and ‘Three Textile Artists’ at Howard Gardens Gallery in Cardiff UWIC, ‘Surface’ at Jaggedart, London in 2006.  Her work was selected for ‘Made in the Middle’, a Craftspace Touring show in 2007, for a solo show at Harris Gallery, Poole and was represented at ArtLondon 2007 and 2008 by Jaggedart.