Sunday, 4 April 2010

Helen Frik

Louise Bird blending into the background amongst the handmade toys

I went to Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff tonight with my friend Louise to see their new show Difficult by Helen Frik.

There had been a call out from the gallery for people to contribute handmade toys (the odder the better) to the show for an installation piece called Higher Up, where to which would be created in one room of the exhibition. Louise submitted two of her serene crocheted zen nuns to the show, one orange, one blue. They were arranged with a raggle-taggle group of other toys in little scenarios - I fancied they were meditating with their odd crew of folks and creatures, calming their various neurosis and quirks.

We spent a long time there amongst the strange, idiosyncratic toy community. The centre of the room was lit from a giant bedside lamp decorated with sinister black figures. When I read the gallery info afterwards I realised the toys are meant to be moving towards the light but become discouraged by the black guardians, we are asked to contemplate what the toys are escaping from and what might be beyond the light -but I didn't really get that feeling myself or feel inclined to ask those questions. Half lit, with cracks of light striping the floor from the adjoining gallery like the bedroom door set ajar of your childhood bedroom, we felt quite compelled to sit on the floor (and did) - nice to be in amongst the odd and the weird and the cobbled together. There were dubious antics, love-ins, eccentric collaborations and whisperings; unlikely pairings and motley crews even a pack of knitted Brownies. We just enjoyed discovering the characters and their relationships to each other and the space.

The rest of the show was interesting, funny in parts - but it was the toy room that stole the limelight for me - visit Louise's blog for her very interesting take on the experience.


  1. I enjoyed seeing + reading this (as I always enjoy visiting here...) - thanks for the link to Louise Bird´s too - reminded me that I wanted to put her blog on my list a long time ago already, but forgot...)

  2. Hello Kathryn
    Thanks for your photos and thoughts on this show. I had read about it and did think about donating a couple of my own handmade toys ... but just didn't have enough time.
    I also like your LinkWithin widget so have put it on my blog too.
    I hope that Absent but not Forgotten went well. (It finishes today I think.)

  3. great pics, i searched everywhere trying to get look at this exhibition! the third picture, with the chicken and cool yeti thing, those red and green blurs in the background...they're mine! is it ok if i blog this pic??

  4. Thanks Bumpo! Absolutely fine to blog the image. It was a good show!

  5. Thanks too for comments from Ger and Frillip moolog (just caught up!!). Absent But Not Forgotten went very well - the project will continue this space! Hope all is well with you.

  6. Thanks for this beautiful post.

    You reproduce what was clearly a magical experience very well in words!

  7. Thank you William! It was a really touching actually, I think because the toys had been made and donated by people...


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