Saturday, 30 November 2013

Casting continues

I began the day with a trip to B&Q to buy more contiboard for the moulds.

I then began casting, finishing the layers in the moulds that I had already been filling.

I noticed that when pouring plaster into the newer moulds (made to be a thinner width in order to take less plaster), the splashes created were much more pronounced than when using the wider moulds.

Once I had filled all the moulds, I removed the casts from the moulds that had been completely filled yesterday.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

First cast revealed

Today I removed the first of the casts from its mould. The colours are vibrant and it fits well into the bookshelf, which is pleasing. I had applied gaffa tape to one of the surfaces of the mould but the texture is very feint. The other surfaces of the cast that were against the contiboard are incredibly smooth and flat. Although I had originally wanted a textured surface to the casts, on reflection, I have decided that the smooth contiboard surface is ideal as there is already a lot going on within the work in terms of colour and composition, and another element may be too much.

After removing the cast from the mould, I continued to mix more coloured plaster, and pour more layers into the moulds that I began filling yesterday.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Casting commences at 1 Royal Terrace

The second half of my mammoth plaster delivery arrived at 1 Royal Terrace, and I began my first batch of casting.

I met with Petter and Ruth from the Royal Terrace committee, and we had a good discussion about deadlines for images, copy the press release and so on. We also talked about options for the in conversation event, and confirmed that it will take place on Sunday 19th January. More details will follow in due course.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


Today was my first proper day of using the gallery as a studio. I began by sorting out the materials and equipment that I moved at the weekend from my studio into the space. While waiting for the first of my two deliveries of plaster, I taped up some of the moulds that I will be using to cast the bookshelves. I want there to be an interesting texture on the surface of the cast, and so covered the contiboard panel that will become the outward facing surface, with textured tape.

I was lucky enough to get some help lifting the three 25kg bags of plaster up to the second floor - phew! I am expecting the rest of my order tomorrow, so decided to wait until all the plaster has arrived before beginning casting.

I am fascinated by the gallery flooring; the texture and pattern of the parquet tiles. I made some rubbings of the floor.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Bookshelf collages

I've been thinking about making a site specific artwork in the bookshelves at 1 Royal Terrace, and have been brainstorming a few ideas around filling the shelves with colour.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Moving into 1 Royal Terrace!

Yesterday I placed a large order with Special Plasters for materials I will be using to make the work I am installing at 1 Royal Terrace in my forthcoming solo exhibition.

I am fortunate enough to be able to spend the next few weeks in the gallery in the run up to the exhibition. This will allow me to make the work in situ, and therefore reduce the risk of damage to the artwork in transit. I gathered together the equipment and belongings in my studio that I will be needing for making the work at 1 Royal Terrace.

Ruth and I then took at trip to B&Q to purchase some more materials. I bought a large sheet of tarpourlin to cover the floor so I don't damage the tiles flooring when casting.

We then packed the car with the belongings from my studio and took them to the gallery, my new studio home for the next few weeks. I've left the 'clean' stuff in my normal studio so I will be doing my drawing etc there, and keeping Royal Terrace as a place predominantly for casting.

I'm looking forward to the plaster delivery arriving so casting can commence!

Work delivered to the RGI

As a member of the Royal Glasgow Institute, I was invited to submit a 'postcard' size work for the RGI Winter exhibition.

Today I delivered my work for the exhibition; an ink and pastel drawing titled "Archive a'.

PREVIEW: Saturday 30 November, 2pm – 4pm. ALL WELCOME 

A fine selection of small ‘postcard’ size works and small framed works by RGIs, RGI artist members and invited artists.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Outcome of my bubblewrap casting experiments

Today I removed the casts from the various moulds that I had covered in bubblewrap. This is how they turned out:

These were from the mould covered in bubblewrap with large bubbles.

These were from the mould that was covered in bubblewrap with small bubbles.

The cast below was from a mould that had been covered in large-bubble bubblewrap and then a layer of parcel tape.

I was surprised by how easy the cast could be removed from the bubblewrap. The bubblewrap texture is fairly distinct, but I am not happy with the rough edges.

I think that the cast above looks unconsidered and messy, as there is no defined pattern.

All of the casts above were made from layers of different coloured plaster. The test piece above shows one of the colour combinations used. I think these colours work really well together, so will use this again.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Testing casting ideas

At the moment I am testing some ideas I have for work for my solo exhibition at 1 Royal Terrace in January 2014. I want to develop the work that I exhibited in Motherwell, working on a larger scale. I am currently testing different surface textures, and have made a number of moulds with bubble wrap.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Exciting exhibition announcement

I am delighted to have been selected to be the first artist to exhibit at a new gallery in Glasgow - 1 Royal Terrace.

The gallery launched today, and published the programme for the first 6 months of 2014.

Over the last month I have been developing ideas for my solo exhibition, and have begun making test pieces in the studio.

When I first visited the beautiful gallery space I was immediately attracted to one  specific feature in the room, and will be creating a site specific installation. 

Watch this space for more news about 1 Royal Terrace.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Review of 'Studio Project' exhibition written by Kat Hayes and published by DEADBIRD Review

Helen Shaddock – Breaking The Mould


Artwork by Helen Shaddock, a Glasgow-based maker refusing to be categorised.
Review by Kat Hayes

Links – Helen Shaddock / Glasgow International Artists Bookfair

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter; an art which might be for every mental worker, be he businessman or writer, like an appeasing influence, like a mental soother, something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue.”
Henri Matisse, Paris, 1908
Helen Shaddock’s work on first encounter is, rather thrillingly what I’d imagine it’d be like to wander into a (admittedly oversized) child’s playpen. Solid blocks of colourful abstracted shapes are dotted around like beautiful building bricks strewn around by the errant hands of a toddler.


Shaddock’s work seeks an immediate familiarity with the audience through its playful simplicity. Each piece has a tactile quality, from the bright colour scheme to the rounded and squared off geometric form. The bright colours do as much to suggest childhood toys and games as do the shapes.

Stemming from both a curiosity and attraction to colour, stripes, and patterns, both natural and man-made, the work is pitched in an ambiguous area between painting and the three-dimensional. Layers of colour are used to create sculptural forms via an intricate casting process.

Shaddock’s motivations include the desire to blur the boundaries between 2D and 3D and to reject the “human need to organise and categorise”. She does this by producing work that defies this categorisation; it is neither what one would necessarily consider painting, nor is it purely sculpture.

Shaddock’s intention is to force us to question how necessary it is to classify, in the artist’s words, “sculpture as sculpture or painting as paintings”.  This rejection of formal boundaries allows the work to escape the ties of a particular medium, which Shaddock says she finds ‘unoriginal’, especially in the context of galleries that link unrelated work together via medium alone. This rejection of traditional values makes it difficult to pigeonhole her practice as either sculptor or painter. Shaddock clearly finds a lack of classification liberating:

“[I enjoy] not being restricted to one medium as working in a variety of media as gives me the flexibility to realise different ideas in different ways. I feel that it keeps my work evolving as I am not tied to one way of doing things.”


Interestingly, despite Shaddock’s rejection of over-simplified classification, she regards her work  as ‘an enquiry into order and chaos’. Put simply, it can be seen a metaphor for the world in which we live, where one can so easily be overwhelmed by the mass of information that bombards us on a daily basis.

Her interest lies in the way that the mind processes this mass of data into a semblance of order. The playful lines of colour could be said to represent Shaddock’s “desire to focus on the positive aspects of life, remain optimistic about the future, and remind others of the joy that the simplest of things can bring”.

The physical process involved in the making of Shaddock’s pieces is a laborious task: methodically preparing the shaped moulds; making them waterproof; mixing unique (non-factory) colours in the plaster pigment; adding the polymer. It is ritualistic and points towards a preoccupation with process. Regarding her cone-like structures, the preparation is not where the process stops, as the mould needs to be constantly shifted to allow the plaster to cover the entirety in layers of distinct colours. This then needs to be repeated for subsequent colours, which can be numerous.

Despite this methodical preparation, the artist states that she “fully embraces the uncontrollable outcomes” of this highly structured casting process: “I try not to control the pouring of the plaster too much. I like the unexpected elements [of each piece]; the dripping, the merging of colours and the splashes”. She admits that, when working on multiple casts, she often loses track of the order of colours that have been used in each mould.  However, this is a consequence she enjoys, as it creates an air of excitement when the mould is opened and the colours emerge.

Shaddock’s work is playful and touches upon a great swathe of styles and influences. Look once and you see familiar but abstracted shapes common in modernist architecture (see the lately refurbished cubed colour scheme of Park Hill in Sheffield or the bold aesthetics of the Golden Lane Estate in London). Equally, you could look again, and see echoes of Kitsch, Pop Art and perhaps a whisper of Vorticism.


Helen Shaddock graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2008 and has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work is in a number of public and private collections.
She  was selected for a residency at Market Gallery, Glasgow in March 2013, which culminated in Studio Project, a solo exhibition of selected work produced during the residency. Other solo exhibitions include Strength in numbers at The Briggait, Glasgow (2011); Coloured Matter, Here Gally, Bristol (2011); Schema, Che Camille, Glasgow (2010). She currently has a solo exhibition titled  Groovings, at Motherwell Theatre and Concert Hall (until October 30th 2013).

Helen is also a co-founder of Glasgow International Artists’ Bookfair.