We’re not big on boasting, but we definitely like to give out pats on the back when they are due. So this high five goes out to Helen Clegg, our new(ish) community assistant, who has just found out she is in the running for a pretty awesome award.
Helen is in her fourth and final year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe, majoring in photography, and was named as one of nine students nominated by their University for the NZAAT (New Zealand Affordable Art Trust) Emerging Artist award. As a category that had only been open to students from four tertiary institutes last year, nationwide entries were accepted this time round, which means there is a massive amount of buzz around the finalists.
“Being selected by Whitecliffe to be put forward for the award was an honour, just to be recognised for my work. Then when I found out I was one of the final nine, I was really happy as I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Originally from the UK, Helen has shied away from all the technology on offer when it comes to photography, preferring to focus on using medium format film. The negatives are double the size and she likes how they pick up the light better, as well as having a greater depth and focus.
Helen (and the rest of the finalists) has a special exhibition at the NZ Art Show, in Wellington from the 26th to 28th of July and she has decided to use three images from her 2012 end of year showcase. Titled ‘Perennial’, Helen describes that she wanted to renew people’s perceptions about how we interact with our surroundings and precariously balanced herself in trees to focus on the fact that our relationship with nature is quite unbalanced at this time. And while this may sound fairly straight forward to a degree, Helen chooses to be her own model and using a camera with no auto exposure, no focus and no timer has presented a few challenges.
“I have to carefully compose a scene and only imagine how I will look in the frame. To take the photo I use a 20 metre pneumatic cable.
“I like how the control is taken away from me, because if I was directing someone else in the photos, it could up being quite ‘staged’. So while I set everything up, it is then kind of left to chance of how the shot will turn out.”
Apart from the prestigious title of ‘Emerging Artists of 2013’, the four winners also receive $2500 and because dreams are free, Helen would spend the money on her own film camera (as she currently uses the one from Whitecliffe). Then she would squirrel away the rest in preparation for her end of year graduating exhibition.