CuratorSpace Artist Bursary #19: Helen Sargeant

Helen Sargeant is an artist based in the UK. Her interdisciplinary, collaborative practice explores the representation of the maternal body. Helen explores her personal and political identity as a woman, artist, and mother. She draws upon the female body as a site of memory, trauma, transformation, vulnerability, power, and decay. Art projects have included investigating maternal ambivalence, maternal labour, the politics of care, the ethics of collaborating with children, and maternal mental health.

"Motherhood, Magic and the Mên-an-Tol” is a residency that I will be carrying out in May 2023. The Mên-an-Tol is an ancient neolithic site in Penwith, Cornwall. Situated in a remote location on the moor, the Mên-an-Tol is a holed stone that is thought to be the remnants of either a tomb or stone circle. It is reputed to cure infertility and rickets by crawling through the stone.

I have made a pilgrimage here every year since I was a young woman. I am drawn to this sacred place and ancient landscape through my maternal grandmother who lived and raised her children in Penwith. My mother crawled through the holed stone whilst on holiday in the 1950s and she made a wish to live at a little cottage near the head of the lane to the site. The wish came true and she did! Since becoming a mother I have bought my children here and encouraged them to crawl through the stone and make wishes themselves.

The residency will investigate the relationship between the body, landscape, and place. It will weave together stories from my matrilineal heritage, and be informed by artists connected to this site, including Barbara Hepworth, Ithell Colquhoun, and Monica Sjöö. I plan to make natural inks from plants on-site, make drawings, maps, field notes, videos, and photography; to create and document healing rituals related to my identity as an artist/mother going through menopause. Making work at dawn and dusk, I will connect to the landscape and the people who have been drawn to this site for millennia. The work will be documented in a zine publication and exhibition."

You can see more of Helen's work on her website.


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