Helen Rousseau was born in North Shields, England, 1966.
She studied at Manchester Polytechnic between the years of 1984 and 1987, and at The Slade School of Fine Art from 2003 to 2005.
She lives and works in London.
Upon entering viewers are confronted by an open cardboard box with painted flaps, on one wall are two intensely patterned net constructions, two low level chipboard palette-esque stacks sit alongside a rectangle of arranged multi-storied chipboard parquet shapes. On the far wall is a very small screen showing a film of a rotating perforated foil.
A discussion between Lawrence Leaman and Helen Rousseau in the last week of March 2007.
LL. You trained in Textiles and specialised in Embroidery how do you feel this has influenced your work thus far?
HR. I would say that my involvement in textiles practice came out of an interest in 'stuff' and the potential of materials to be transformed from one state to another. Over the last few years this has shifted to an interest in the material as it exists and its ability to carry or exert a certain tone or sense within the work. I'm aiming to achieve a clarity about the particular material nature of the object on the floor, or the collage on the wall - what exactly it's doing - that attitude is something I could see as being more an influence from my MFA in Sculpture.
LL. The show you've put on here at OUTPOST includes work that emphasises the processes by which it was made, is this a way in, an entry point, for the audience through which they can participate in the creative process?
HR. I don't think of the work as interactive in the sense that I'm not inviting the audience to change the order or arrangement of pieces. However, the viewer's presence, their act of looking and moving through the space - noticing the potential for something to extend or change or that something has taken place, which they are not party to - is important for the work to be complete.
LL. The materials you use are, on the whole, easy to come by. They are the kinds of materials we have lying around our homes and work places; is this another instance of sampling?
HR. It's important that the materials can be seen as low grade or banal but that in the work the use of those particular materials is very specific. When I think of sampling I think of an awareness I'm carrying around, I'm all the time looking for something to use that might operate in a very particular way. For example in my use of chipboard and MDF I'm often looking for a means of slowing the work and /or the viewer down.
LL. The piece constructed out of chipboard panels refers quite directly to a certain type of flooring, however, is this piece about representation?
HR. In a sense it is about representing an aspect of the built world, pointing to a particular structure, looking at the lowness of a floor. However, I also want to allow the structure to present an opportunity for another set of possibilities. The idea of sampling relates to the use of repetition in the work in that in a repeated sampling change may occur.
LL. So you don't think of your work as abstract?
HR. No, but sometimes I might work with it as if it were.
LL. It seems from observing your installation practice over the last few days that you are happy to blur the boundaries between art practice and curation… do you make a distinction between these two disciplines?
HR. I do, in that I see the placing, arranging or putting together of work as part of the process of making a piece and that includes any reference or relationship to the space it occupies. I'm often thinking of where the edge of the work is in relation to the space it's in and, however slight that relationship might be, that forms an aspect of the content of the work. The emergence of content out of these activities is fundamental to my art practice, so in that sense I don't see my role as curator of my own work.