"Words can evoke childhood, joy, sadness, love, fear and nostalgia. Almost anything can be conjured up but as she casts a winking, mischievous eye over some of our favourite words and shakes them up, in Helen Kirwan-Taylor's hands even the familiar ones surprise with new wit and new emotions". Liliane Fawcett
Themes & Variations is proud to present “Words”, a solo exhibition of thirty word sculptures and limited edition prints by journalist Helen Kirwan-Taylor.
Drawing on language and the etymology of words, Kirwan-Taylor creates three-dimensional word sculptures made from cardboard, wood, glass, leather and fabric using a variety of materials from photographs and postcards to spray paint, nail varnish, magnets, stickers, toys, souvenirs, jewellery, sand, cut up credit cards, key rings and even icing sugar. “I once cut up the boys’ cereal packet before they had a chance to finish breakfast” she says.
At first childlike and innocent, Kirwan-Taylor examines the meaning of everyday and much overused words drawing influences from psychology, art, fashion and literature. What does happy mean? Is Prozac-induced cheer real? In USA, the all-American cheerleader is holding a gun rather than a pompom.
As a journalist Kirwan-Taylor has spent a lifetime thinking about words. “I often ask friends and colleagues: What’s your word? It gets even more interesting when I ask, ‘what does your word look like? Describe it.”
Kirwan-Taylor attended a foundation course at Chelsea College of Art and Design. She studied art history writing and music at Sarah Lawrence College in America and the Sorbonne in Paris. She worked in television for ABC and CBS 60 Minutes before moving into print journalism. “Writing about design and craft has fuelled a passion for making things. I have spent so much time in workshops, factories and ateliers that it was inevitable I would start dabbling myself” she says. “My light bulb moment was spending three days with Jeff Koons. His art, at least to me, is all about a play on scale. When you blow something up (or shrink it in my case), you look at it completely differently”. Whilst she has been making mixed media and word sculptures for private and corporate clients for over twenty years, this is her first gallery show.
Since opening in the heart of Notting Hill in 1984, Themes & Variations has been recognised as a leading specialist in post-war and contemporary design. Gallerist Liliane Fawcett was amongst the first to feature work by then largely unknown designers such as Tom Dixon, Christian Astuguevieille and the Campana Brothers.
All images © Helen Kirwan-Taylor
Themes & Variations Gallery
231 Westbourne Grove
London W11 2SE
Ph. +44 (0)20 77275531
Monday - Friday 10am - 1pm & 2pm - 6pm
Saturday 10am - 6pm