Tuesday, 31 December 2019

2019 in review

2019 has been a year of ups and downs personally, socially and creatively. It began with a serious foot injury which meant I was bedridden for a couple of months. During this period I turned to writing as my creative outlet. Over the past few months I have lost touch with this aspect of my practice, but writing regularly is one of my priorities for the forthcoming year.

My understanding of time changed during the months of my recovery and on my return to the studio I referenced this in the watercolour paintings that I made of diaries, calendars and notepaper.


Throughout March 2019 Caitlin Merrett King was resident at The NewBridge Project, working closely with studio and associate members to record Group Show, a podcast acting as an informal archive, giving voice to the inner workings of NewBridge, friendships and current collaborations.

Caitlin's podcast became the ideal opportunity for the group of women (see image below) who were involved in the realisation of Bobby Baker's Great and Tiny War, to talk about collaboration and some of the associated issues.

Episode 8

The work of marginendeavour (David Foggo and Helen Shaddock in collaboration), has become an increasingly important aspect of my practice. 

We also contributed to Caitlin Merrett King's Group Show podcast (episode 1) with a work titled 'The Back and Forth'.


Much of our work in the studio has centered around the idea of an eyesore on a billboard. We produced a number of 'mock ups' for billboards, and are currently working on a life-size billboard to be exhibited in the Spring/Summer.

I was delighted to have my work included in a new publication WordPower: Language as Medium.

As life became more turbulent, drawing became one way in which I tried to deal with what was happening.

In August 2019 David Foggo and I hired the NewBridge Project Space for a small exhibition, Bits and Pieces, featuring some of our solo works as well as one work by marginendeavour. We collaboratively curated the exhibition to emphasise links between individual artworks and our practices.

Working within the grid structure of the Frieze listings page, I set myself the challenge of using coloured hole reinforcers in different ways to fill the blank spaces.

marginendeavour created a new eyesore artwork for the Newcastle University Fine Art Postcard Auction.

marginendeavour continue to work on the life size billboard.

After a few months of creation and development, we launched the marginendeavour website. Please visit it at https://www.marginendeavour.co.uk/

I also updated my own website http://www.helenshaddock.co.uk/

One of my artworks was included in the Gallagher and Turner Open Exhibition 2019.

Another series involved collaging complementary colours in the blank grid spaces within the Frieze magazine listing pages.

In November marginendeavour and Lesley Guy from TOTALLER joined Theresa Poulton, Jill Tate, and Matt Pickering for a roundtable discussion in which we exchanged ideas and experiences with other artists with a shared interest in working collaboratively and collectively.

My most recent series of drawings has been based on the 26 letters of the alphabet. Each A4 sheet features one letter

As the world counts down to the start of a new decade, I am currently working on a series of number drawings.

I'd like to thank you all for your support throughout the year. 

I look forward to continuing to share my artistic process with you.

May 2020 be filled with creativity.

Monday, 30 December 2019

So Many Books, So Little Time - BBC Radio 4

Since my Mum is a retired Librarian and my Dad is a self-declared book hoarder, it is hardly surprising that I am also fond of books. One of the things I was most excited about when moving into my current flat, was the possibility of being able to have a bookcase on which all my books could be united and housed. I took great pleasure from gathering all my books together, measuring them and designing my very own bookcase in which they would fit (with a little room for expansion, of course!) 

I am drawn to the book as a physical object, hence my decision not to have a kindle or other electronic book device. I have many books that are more than their contents, there is a story behind getting the book - such as if it was bought for me and has a note inside. There's something about owning a book, being able to look back at it, refer to it when you have forgotten something, or being reminded of the time of your life when you first read the book.

Yet I hold my hands up high and admit that there are many books on my bookcase that I have yet to read. But I intend to read them.

I enjoyed listening to Mark Hodkinson discuss his relationship with books and the act of collecting books in this Radio 4 programme, 'So Many Books, So Little Time'.

Mark Hodkinson ponders the nature of our personal book collections, why and how we gather books, what it says about us, and how we ever expect to find time to read them all.

Author Mark had just moved house. By far the most difficult task was carrying, storing and alphabetising his collection of 3,500 books. It made him stop to think. If it took, say, four days of solid reading to finish a book, he’d need 38.3 years to go through his collection. He would have to make his way through 315 million words. And that’s if he didn’t take time off to sleep, eat and have the occasional night out.

Clearly, it was a challenge too far.

So Many Books, So Little Time is an autobiographical, impressionistic audio odyssey. Mark considers that he might be afflicted by bibliomania and visits consumer psychologist Lisa Edgar to see whether owning thousands of books is normal. He calls at his local bookshop and meets its owner, George Kelsall, who has ten times as many books as Mark and has bought a large house solely to accommodate them.

He visits fellow writers, such as Austin Collings who tells Mark he is in grave danger of becoming merely an aggregate of all his books and will eventually lose his own writing voice. Trevor Hoyle tells Mark that he views books as time capsules and, pulling copies down from the shelves, he can tell Mark when he bought them, what was happening in his life at the time. Joanne Harris, the million-selling author of Chocolat, tells Mark she has filled her house full of books because she can’t bring it upon herself to throw any away.

Practical concerns are not forgotten – Mark visits a carpenter, Ashley Deakin, who previously made a bookcase a week but now does one or two a year. ‘‘People don’t want to put books on their walls any more. They just want these bloody huge televisions,’’ he says. Ashley then remembers that he built a shelving unit just a few weeks ago.

"But it was for shoes,’’ he says.

A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4

Monday, 23 December 2019

New Year, New You: Mini Crits

New Year, New You: Mini Crits
Thursday 9 January 2020, 6-8pm

The NewBridge Project : Newcastle, Co–Work Space
Free, members only

I'm looking forward to taking part in the New Year: New You mini crits session that will take place in January next year at The NewBridge Project. Various members of The NewBridge Project will deliver 5 minute presentations relating to their artworks or research at any stage of development. The friendly audience will provide insight and offer guidance.