Helen Snell Tree Scissors
Helen Snell & Monica-Shanta

Monica-Shanta’s practice encompasses digital film, interactive performance, installation and image. An aspect of her subject matter is visual language itself, its inherent cultural values, and the contexts upon which it depends. Using lived, sensory and physical experiences as the starting points for her work, she seeks to transcend culturally confined definitions of ‘self’ in a synthesis of cultural languages, meetings and meanings. Helen Snell's current work investigates the complex legacy of our maritime history, especially pre and post-colonial narratives. Using digital and analogue outputs to explore the concept of the multiple and issues of authorship, her work uses the intrinsic value of the material and edition size as markers of a geo-political agenda. Helen is interested in exploring how objects/artefacts can acquire agency and meaning beyond the museum or gallery.
Tree Scissors, laser cut plywood, 2019 (image Helen Snell)

Ethno – Constitutionals: A collaboration


Presented as a split screen digital image experience that takes the viewer on ‘Ethno-Constitutional’ journeys along a river at low tide. The work explores a metaphorical ethno - space, using the process of walking to prearranged meeting points to explore themes of isolation, alienation, connection, difference, belonging, distance and proximity in order to address the dualities perpetuated by contemporary legacies of a colonial past.

Through a series of staged and recorded encounters, both real and virtual, including river bank meetings, Zoom conversations and virtual environments, the artists use object exchanges and physical/performed interactions with socially distanced protocols, to prompt visual conversations around concepts of ‘race’ and ‘identity’ that seek to address the legacy and potential of current and historical events.

Ethno – Constitutionals: A collaboration was commissioned as part of The Arts Institute Covid-19 art fund, launched in June 2020, which invited artists to respond to the provocation ‘Everything has changed. Nothing has changed. Change is coming’. The series features five different art-forms and supports artists working in the South West, UK. Helen Snell and Monica-Shanta were selected to represent the Visual Arts category. Additional photography by Vicki Gardner.

Helen Snell