Helen Gilbart is particularly interested in accessing specific histories buried deep within the land, whether urban or rural. How a place has been physically made, what it has experienced, witnessed or might reveal, who or what was there, the clues. These questions are paramount. Objects are explored in the same way. Gilbart first studied Geography and Fine Art jointly and continues to embed herself directly within her subject wherever possible. Her various residencies and commissions have enabled her to work in the UK and abroad using mainly paint, and occasionally print, textiles and sculpture.
Gilbart’s awards include those for extended periods in the Mediterranean working within selected landscapes. Amongst these were a year residency in Cyprus and another for fifteen months in coastal Andalucia developing her interests in place. Other residencies include Artist in Residence in the Earth Sciences Department at the University of Cambridge between 1999 and 2006, working with Earth Scientists and outstanding palaeontology that offered clues to specific landscapes. In 2009 Gilbart was funded to work at the UNESCO Burgess Shale fossil beds in Field, British Columbia as part of Darwin200. Since 2010 archaeological themes have dominated, with projects triggered through the British Museum; working from their hidden collections and in the AHOB (Ancient Human Occupation of Britain) project in Happisburgh, Norfolk. These were referenced in Into the Holloway – an extensive, linear work of 325 paintings that was completed and documented as a film in 2017. In this, and in most recent projects entitled Conversations, the hidden archive stored in specific landscapes and objects is further explored. Recently Gilbart has completed Book of Hours I & II – a Lockdown meditation on time, histories, identity, humanity. Comprising nearly 800 small painted images on playing cards, Book of Hours forms two large art books, a notated microsite with The Art Station, Saxmundham and a film made collaboratively with film maker Emily Richardson.