Helen Pailing – October Sculpture 30 Artist of the Month

After the smash hit success, of Gateshead Family Sculpture Day on 27th September in Saltwell Park, I can’t stop thinking about all things sculpture related. It is just fantastic to think that discarded materials can be given a new lease of life and built into something visually brilliant.

In my day job, I work for Gateshead Culture Team and, as of last week, at Sculpture Day, we launched Sculpture 30; a year-long programme of activities here in Gateshead, to celebrate sculpture! Sculpture has become progressively part of the heart of Gateshead, you only need to drive past the Angel to realise that. However, the Angel is only the beginning of the story and Gateshead is actually full to the brim of Public Art and a hub of talented local sculptors and artists who are constantly making. Sculpture 30 will enable Gateshead to discover sculpture through art walks, talks, workshops and artist studio visits.

With Sculpture 30 underway, our very first artist, sculptor and maker in the spot light is Helen Pailing.


Helen is currently exhibiting at Gateshead Central Library, in the Gallery with the exhibition ‘Playing with Process’. The exhibition focuses on the engagement with chosen X-ray film materials; playing, exploring and transforming them through making. The exhibition reveals the direct contact between Helen the maker with her playful personality and the material – everything has been cut, threaded, tied, and punched by hand, and celebrates the imperfections created.

I caught up with Helen recently, to chat about her work;

“Playing with materials is central to my practice which involves the transformation of everyday materials into sculptural objects, architectural interventions and installations. The work I create is formed out of a playful, intuitive collaboration between maker and matter and through this non-verbal dialogue the performance potential of the material emerges.”

Helen is also running an accompanying workshop to the exhibition; Transform Everyday Materials into Wearable Art with Helen Pailing on 14th October, 6pm- 9pm at Gateshead Central Library. I asked Helen, what participants should expect, from the workshop;

“I intend to encourage people to be as experimental and bold as possible. They will learn some basic joining techniques and have fun with a range of salvaged materials, creating a unique piece of wearable sculpture to take away”


So if you fancy a sculptural workshop, get your tickets quick as they are selling fast – https://online.gateshead.gov.uk/EventTicketsOnline/pages/eventdetails.aspx?ky=3259

And if you haven’t seen the exhibition yet, you must! It is available to view during Gateshead Central Library opening hours and let me know what you think by writing in the comments book!

To learn more about Helen and to view the many sculptures she has created over the years, visit her website – www.helenpailing.com


The Sculpture 30 programme of activity for 2016 is in development and top secret at the moment, but if you want to be the first in the know, email CBSArtsTeam@gateshead.gov.uk to be added to the mailing list.