Redruth, Cornwall, UK
Helen Carnac has been working full time as an arts professional since 1994. Her work, research and other professional commitments bring together a diverse, but connected ecology of teaching, advocacy, studio-work, curation, mentoring, and writing. Finding the most appropriate means and strategies to enable knowledge and understanding to emerge in a range of settings is at the core of Helen’s work.
Helen is a leading artist in her field with several major articles written about her in the past three years. Most recently Emma Crichton-Miller wrote a detailed article about new work Helen and the Furniture Designer David Gates have been making in collaboration. In 2015 Marjorie Simon wrote a major piece about Helen for the USA publication Metalsmith and Reinhold Ziegler an online profile for Norwegian Crafts.
Helen has a solid grounding and education in making and in the applied arts, always taking this knowledge to be a starting point. Her approach is expansive and connective, aiming to develop knowledge and forge new thinking and links from this grounded practice. This has been tested most recently through working with the dancer and choreographer Laila Diallo in a process based practice since 2012, their most recent works have been shown at Whitechapel Gallery (2016), Arnofini Gallery (2015) and The Dovecot, Edinburgh (2015).
Helen has worked at Middlesex University since October 2011 as a visiting lecturer and since 2014 as a 0.4 Senior Lecturer, writing the MA Jewellery Futures and developing the BA Design Crafts programmes. She has worked in Higher Education since 1999, firstly as an associate lecturer and then as a Higher Education Innovation Funded, Research and Employability Manager/Animateur working in the realm of knowledge transfer and exchange. This outward-facing project resulted in the development of external projects for students and staff, writing funding bids and conducting research about student employability alongside the University’s Head of Employability.
Helen has sat on Artquest’s advisory panel since 2010 contributing to the development of ideas and supporting and advocating their work. Since 2011 she has been Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
It is this outward-facing and research-driven exchange of knowledge that Helen is deeply committed to and she sees the process as one that both informs and develops the work that she does with colleagues, students and audiences of her work – in made, written and spoken forms.
Edge and Shore, 2014-6
Commissioned by Siobhan Davies Dance and funded by Arts Council England. Engaging audiences in thinking about how processes that are emergent and ongoing but not necessarily ever finished or complete are understood.
Side by Side, 2012
Commissioned by Siobhan Davies Dance to work with the choreographer and artist Laila Diallo in a six-week residency. This has led to the artists developing thought about how we remember through our selves, objects and places. The project was funded in order to document artists’ processes and to develop knowledge about how a work may come into being. It has been used in the ongoing research and current PhD of David Bennett at Coventry University, where the Siobhan Davies Dance archive is also held.
Cultural Leadership Fellowship, 2011/2
Awarded Cultural Leadership Programme (CLP) in order to develop thought about how the Arts are communicated. Working extensively on disseminating knowledge through curating the Craft Rally, 2010, Chelsea College of Art and funded by UK Crafts Council and Artquest with a follow up event at the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield. Also taking part in two USA based seminars: ‘O Brave New World’ at Haystack Mountain School of Arts, 2009 and ‘Why Craft Now’ a USA Crafts Council invited 3 day seminar where Helen was the only International invited guest and contributor. Through this fellowship Helen trained on the Clore funded programme in Relational Dynamic Coaching and took part in a Leadership Development scheme called ‘Method’ with 21 artists.
Commissioned to write an online piece about the Fellowship and the potential for artist leadership by CLP. The Artist Leadership Fellowship is now known as the Clore Artist Leadership Programme. Helen is particularly interested in the idea of ‘Quiet Leadership’ (developed by Chris Fremantle) and leading through doing/practice, she went on to evaluate a programme for CLP that Battersea Arts Centre ran on leading in the arts. (2010)
‘A Shared View, Stitching Together Ideas in Time’, 2011
Guest Professor at Kunsthochschule Weissensee for four months. This project underscored the importance of working collaboratively, in motion and developing thought from real life situations and scenarios that were encountered through the project by the student cohort. The project resulted in the publication of a book. ‘A Shared View, Stitching Together Ideas in Time’, published by Greenlab, an EU sustainable laboratory for design.
Helen has developed many similar projects and presented them Internationally from Moscow to Seattle. Speaking extensively about the connection to making and thinking through the connection of hand, body and mind, most notably at seminars with the anthropologist Tim Ingold (Cubbitt Arts 2011), choreographer Siobhan Davies (Jerwood Foundation 2011) and at the Norwegian Crafts Council’s symposium on Craft and Social Change (Toynbee Hall 2013). Currently she is a member of a development committee for the Product Department at ARTEZ, Arnhem, Holland, where the aim is to redevelop and redesign the structure of all their programmes to include a highly reflective and applied approach to making and designing.
Making a Slow Revolution, 2007 – 2011
Commissioned to research and co-curate with Craftspace ‘Making a Slow Revolution’ which aimed to provide a forum for open discussion around the contribution of contemporary making and design to some of the philosophies presented within the Slow Movement. This research resulted in writing and securing a substantial Arts Council bid and a seven venue national touring show, which premiered at Birmingham City Art Gallery. The project received international attention and has been peer reviewed internationally, (several featured artists returning it as an outcome for REF2014). Helen travelled extensively to give lectures and run seminars about the subject matter over a number of years, bringing focus to the development, sharing and dissemination of knowledge. The exhibition ended in 2011, but its legacy has continued and Helen still regularly writes and talks about the project. Through the project she was appointed an Associate Fellow with the Textile and Environmental Design (TED) based at Chelsea College of Art.
Intelligent Trouble, 2009 -11
Emphasising the contingent nature of process, doing, handling material and working together Intelligent Trouble (IT), a London based collective of makers sought to explore the possibilities of working together whilst ‘shift(ing), change(ing) and remain(ing) the same’. IT began when a group of 4 makers, Lin Cheung, David Clarke, David Gates and Helen Carnac, decided they wanted to work together, with no particular outcome but as a response to showing works together during the exhibition In Transit in 2009 in Munich, which was installed in a working foundry as part of the Schmuck jewellery show.
Carry The Can, 2006
Co-convening, fundraising, directing and chairing the ‘Carry the Can’ academic conference funded by ACJ, HEIF, Arts Council England and Metal Events in order to raise issues of awareness and a forum for discussion of how artists and makers contribute to legacies within practices, processes of designing and in making objects.
Process Works, 2007 (curated with Ruth Rushby)
This project aimed to gain understanding of discreet languages of making and their specificity to individual practice. Examining this in the first instance through an exhibition and catalogue, with an invited written contribution in the form of essays and maker interviews by Dr Paul Harper. The exhibition toured 3 venues. Aiming to understand more about how the act of making may be understood both inside and outside practice and whether this act is more understandable when we are able to encounter the process in whatever way? In 2006 ‘process’ was rarely examined in exhibitions of made artefacts in the Crafts and yet we wanted to show that making implies a process – a journey, an examining of thought, of meaning and a putting together of elements, materials and ideas.
Exchanging work and making with a group of staff and recent graduates from London Guildhall University and Alchimia Jewellery School in Florence. Dialogue was both collaboration in making and conversation. It initiated a long period in Helen’s work, which continues, when she has actively chosen to work with others, often in preference to working alone. It was around this point that Helen had also begun to think that the importance of her work did not lie only in finished artefacts but that it was about a more open-ended and expansive process of putting things together and taking them apart: exploring the nuts and bolts of making.
1994 – present Artist, curator, independent academic and writer: I work from my studio in South London making work and developing projects. My aim is to work independently but in collaboration with academics and artists from different fields. https://helencarnac.wordpress.com/
2014 – Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader Middlesex University: BA Jewellery, BA Design Crafts, MA Jewellery Futures.
2011 – 2014 Visiting Lecturer Middlesex University, London
April – July 2011 Guest Professor Kunsthochschule Weissensee, Berlin
Sept 2006 – 2009 London Metropolitan University. Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design Senior Lecturer, working at BA and MA level across Product Design and Applied Arts, Silversmithing and Jewellery. http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/jcamd/research/staff-research/dpm/helen-carnac.cfm
Sept 2002- 2006 London Metropolitan University. Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design Research and Employability Manager and Animateur.
Jan 2001- July 2002 Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication Lead Tutor Foundation: 3D Design – Product, furniture, Jewellery, constructed textiles, interiors, set design, industrial design.
Sept 1999-2002 London Guildhall University. Visiting lecturer: BA Silversmithing, Jewellery and Allied Crafts
2016 Edge and Shore, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK
2015 Edge and Shore, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK
2015 Edge and Sore, Dovecot, Edinburgh, UK
2014 Writing and Object, Galerie Handwerk, Munich
2014 1st World War Commemoration, Royal West of England Academy
2013 Setting the Scene, New Landscapes, Craft Study Centre, Farnham
2012 Drawing, Permanence and Place, Kulturhaus Kroenbacken, Erfurt, Germany
2011 Drawing, Permanence, Place, Kunstverein, Coburg. Catalogued and touring
The tool at Hand, Milwaukee Art Museum and Touring
Installation 91ft 5” Institute of Making, Kings College, London
SOFA New York
Collect, Saatchi Gallery, London
Host, Velvet da Vinci, CA, USA
2010 Under The Counter, Smiths Row Gallery
SOFA, New York, represented by CAA
Collect, Saatchi Gallery, London
Intelligent Trouble, CAA, London
2009 In Transit…84GHz, Munich
Collect, Saatchi Gallery, London
Inner Voice: Curated by Dorothy Hogg, CAA, London
Cluster, Installation at Velvet da Vinci, San Francisco
Metal Exhibition, Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh
2008 In response to…84GHz, Munich
Elizabeth Turrell and Helen Carnac, University of East Carolina
Playing With Fire, Juried Exhibition, Devon Guild of Craftsmen Catalogued and touring
Collect at the V&A, London, represented by Contemporary Applied Arts
2007 Process Works, 5 Jewellers: University of Hertfordshire Galleries Catalogued and touring
Badges, Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg Catalogued and touring USA
Anti War Medals, Gallery I/O, Thomas Mann, New Orleans.
Collect at the V&A
2006 Collect at the V&A
2004 Anti War Medals exhibition, Curated by Velvet Da Vinci, Touring: Electrum, London Norway and USA
Solo: Open Eye, Edinburgh
2003 Celebrating Education, Contemporary Applied Arts, London
David Gates and Helen Carnac, Flow, London
2002 Diaspora Cymreig, Ruthin Gallery: touring and catalogue
2001/2002 Home Sweet Home, group show, curated by Lesley Jackson for the British Council catalogued and touring
2000 Contemporary British Silver: A Crafts Council Touring Exhibition catalogued
Contemporary British Silver: Gallery Marzee, Netherlands
1999 Heim und Handwerk, Munich
1996 Living at Belsay: Belsay Hall
Museum of Art and Design New York
Rotasa Foundation, California, USA
Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin, USA
Bilston Gallery, UK
2015 – Course Director MA Jewellery Futures, Middlesex University, London
2014 – 2016 Course Director BA Design Crafts, Middlesex University, London
2011 – 2015 Co-course Director, BA Jewellery and Accessories, Middlesex University, London
2014 Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO)
2013 Haystack School of Arts and Crafts, USA
Independent Dance: Summer Intensive: Sharing, Making, Moving with Laila Diallo
2012 University of Hertfordshire
Manchester Metropolitan University
2011 Guest Professor, Kunsthochschule Weissensee, Berlin
Sint Lucas, Antwerp: ‘Marking Place: understanding environment through journeys and collecting’
California College of the Arts, San Francisco, USA
Camberwell College of Art and Design, London
2010 Pratt Fine Arts, Seattle, USA
Strelka Post Graduate School for Architecture and Design, Moscow: QUICK and SLOW: Time is in your hands
Penland School of Arts, North Carolina, USA
2008 University of East Carolina, North Carolina, USA
2007 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA.
University of East Carolina, North Carolina, USA
Millersville University, Pennsylvania, USA
2003 – 2011 Enamel Research Centre, University of West of England, Bristol
2010 Accredited professional coach, CLP and Relational Dynamics
1994 BA (Hons) Silversmithing, Jewellery and Allied Craft, London Guildhall University
1993 Fachhochschule fur Gestaltung, Schwabisch Gmund, Germany
1990 B.T.E.C HND Design Crafts, Plymouth College of Art & Design.
1988 Art Foundation, Newport College of Art and Design
2010 Curator Under the Counter: Jewellery in Conversation. Smiths Row Gallery
2010 Curator online exhibition for Alias: Making, unmaking, repair and repetition
2010 Curator for inaugural Craft Rally, London commissioned by Artquest and Crafts Council
2007 – 2012 Curator of National touring exhibition ‘Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution’
2005 – 2007 Curator: Process Works exhibition, beginning at University of Hertfordshire. Catalogued
Feb 2000- present Dialogue – Co-Instigator, curator and participant in Dialogue: a series of projects, exchange of ideas and exhibitions
Selected writing and Consultancy
2013 Contemporary Jewelry and the Relational Turn. Published on Sterling Sept 2013
2012 A shared View: Stitching together ideas in time: a project in Berlin
2011 ‘Collaboration through Craft’ To be published on Berg 2013
2010 ‘Into the Unknown’ A reflection on fellowship in Cultural Leadership in the Arts
2010 ‘Making Time’ ‘Studio; Craft and Design in Canada’, Fall/Winter 2010, pp38-42
2010 ‘House of Words’ Journal of Modern Craft: Exhibition Review Volume 3, Number 2, July 2010 , pp. 253-256(4)
2010 ‘Stitching it together in time’ :Essay Contribution to Upcycling Textiles: Adding Value through Design http://www.everandagain.info/
2009 ‘Handmade is favourite’ Paratus Communication: Consultancy and written report on Handmade to support International press campaign
Seminar, Conference and Academic Development
2010: Craft Rally, London and Sheffield for Artquest, Commissioned by UK Crafts Council
2009: Slow panel discussion, Southbank Centre debate as part of curatorial development of Taking Time; Craft and the Slow Revolution, Royal Festival Hall, London for Slow Down London
2007: Carry the Can seminar, The Women’s Library, London
Process Works Seminar, The Language of Making, The Women’s Library, London
Dialogue, A walk and talk about collections. Starting point Collect at the V&A, London
2006: Association for Contemporary Jewellery Conference, Director and Co-chair of steering committee
Victoria and Albert Museum: Seminar to introduce ‘Carry the Can’
2005 Chair: Jerwood Debates, London Metropolitan University, A series of debates focussing on the future of metal in association to Jerwood Prize for Metal
2003 ‘Creating a Happy Living’, Professional development seminars for students
HEIM (Honour, Ethics, Integrity and Morality), London, Forum fur Schmuck exhibition, Bei Meine Ehre
2011 – Fellow Royal Society of the Arts
2011 – Advisory Board Member, Artquest, University of the Arts, London
2011 – Membership Committee, Art Jewelry Forum, USA http://www.artjewelryforum.org/blog/
2010 Invited participant: ACC USA Why Craft Now? http://www.americancraftmag.org/blog-post.php?id=11574
2009 Haystack Mountain School, Maine, USA, invited participant O Brave New World: Looking at Time, Making, and Creativity http://www.haystack-mtn.org/symposia.php
2009 Contributed to SLOWLAB development, London, ICA http://slowdialogue.blogspot.com/2009/05/seeking-slow-directionality-at-ica.html
2008/9 Peer reviewer for ‘Constructing the Applied Arts: Past Visions – Future Possibilities’ Plymouth College of Art and Design http://makingfutures.plymouthart.ac.uk/journalvol1/papers.php
2002 Director of the ‘Carry the Can’ project, an ongoing project that provides a forum for the discussion of ethical issues that concern contemporary making and material practices in the UK and internationally. www.carrythecan.org
2010 Chair: Crafts Council Craft Rally, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield UK
Co-Chair: Craft Rally, Chelsea College of Art
Chair: Stroud Textile Festival Conference on Slow Textiles
2009 Chair for strand ‘Making Futures’ conference on Sustainability, PCAD UK
2006 Chair: Carry the Can, The Brewery, London www.carrythecan.org
Mentoring and External Examining
2014 – External Examiner: Sheffield Hallam University
2013 – WorkWeld Committee, ARTEZ, Arnhem, Holland
2013 – 2014 Chief External Examiner: University of Brighton
2010 – 2013 External Examiner: University of Brighton
2007 – 2010 External Examiner, Contemporary Crafts, University College Falmouth
2008/9 Mentor for Contemporary Fellowship Scheme
2005 – 2010 External Examiner, BA Crafts, Staffordshire University, Dept of Art, Media & Design
Selected Artist Talks
2015 Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh; Re:Public Jewellery, Munich; SNAG Conference, Boston USA.
2014 KHIO, Oslo; Whitechapel Gallery, London, University of Hertfordshire, MA.
2013 Norwegian Crafts Council, London; Chelsea College of Art, MA programme; GOMA, Glasgow; Haystack, USA
2012 Design Council Wales: 10 things I learnt: Slow Design, University of Hertfordshire, Manchester Metropolitan University, Institute of Education, London
2010 Chelsea College of Art: Slow Design, The Burberry project, Strelka, Moscow: The Diversity of One Design Practice, Sheffield, UK: http://www.craftrally.org.uk/page/sheffield-2010, Stroud International Textiles: http://www.stroudinternationaltextiles.org.uk/conference.html, Saatchi Gallery London, Metropolitan Works, London: http://www.metropolitanworks.org/events/event_listings/detail/168/
2009 Central St Martins/Camberwell College HYP 3 Research Group, London, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, Slow Revolution
2008 ALIAS, Devon, UK, Velvet da Vinci, USA
2007 Staffordshire University, Guest Critic, The Women’s Library, London and University of Herts: Process Works
2006 The Brewery, London, Carry the Can, South West Arts, ALIAS, ‘The Poetics of Making’
2005 Dartington Hall, ‘Talking about Talking’ Commissioned by ALIAS, Whitechapel Art Gallery ‘Navigating the London Art Scene’
2005 Collaborative commission with David Gates: Permanent installation of Furniture with enamel for Bilston Craft Gallery: Wolverhampton City Art Galleries
Lead Artist, Artquest, London: Forum project: lead debate
2009/10 Cultural Leadership Partners: Artist Leadership Development Fellowship
2008 Innovation in enamelling, UK
Third prize Juried exhibition, Metal Inclinations, USA
1996 Winner Carroll Foundation Award
Selected Index, Crafts Council
Membership, Contemporary Applied Arts
1995 Runner-up Carroll Foundation Award
Setting Up Grant, Crafts Council
Recent peer review and critical writing
Metalsmith Vol 35. No 1, 2015, Liminal Landscapes, Marjorie Simon
‘The Journal of Modern Craft’, vol3 no.3 Nov. 2010 pp373-5. Exhibition review, Taking Time; Craft and the Slow Revolution.
‘Perspectives’, Sept. 2010, pp60-62 ‘Playing With Time’
FibreArts Sept/Oct 2010 Volume 37 No 2 Review Taking Time by Jessica Hemmings
Works Published In
Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution ISBN-10: 0952683296
ISBN-13: 978-0952683292, ‘The Compendium Finale of Contemporary Jewellers’, LIM, A. Darling Publications, Germany ISBN: 978-3-939130-95-6, 500 Enameled Objects, Lark Books, 2009, Enamel Experience’ UWE, 2007, ISBN 978-1-906501-00-6, Process Works 5 Jewellers, Jan 2007, Site Projects, ISBN 13 978—0-9554379-1-5, Diaspora Cymreig, Makers of welsh origin working outside of Wales: 2002 ISBN-10: 1900941503, ISBN-13: 978-1900941501, Form: Wales Art International by Ceri Jones (Editor)ISBN-10: 0954513029 ISBN-13: 978-0954513023 2003