Victoria Gallery & Museum: Photographs by Helen Sear

c. Helen Sear

Until Saturday 26 September 2015
I Love You Daucus Carota: Helen Sear
A special exhibition on display on the Red Wall along the first floor gallery.

Presented as portraits, these flower heads play on the temporality of life and the legacy of art. Hung in the grandeur of Waterhouse’s lavish Red Brick building, we are brought into thinking about photography as a Victorian invention (pre-dating the building), expanding through the years, to deliver us these eternal seeds in the form of a dying, decapitated, beautiful head. Playing on ideas of nobility and egalité, gender, riches, nature and scale, these fascinating works deserve more than one look.

Daucus Carota, Wild Carrot, Bird’s Nest, Bishops Lace and Queen Anne’s lace, so named as the small red flower at its centre is thought to represent a droplet of blood, where the wife of King James I pricked herself while making lace. Another story refers to Anne Boleyn, the beheaded wife of King Henry VIII; the white flower representing lace around her neck and its red centre, the point of decapitation.

These wild flowers, found at the side of agricultural fields and roadside ditches, were once popular as a contraceptive for women and simultaneously in ancient rituals and spells, to increase sexual potency in men.

In Helen Sear’s Wild Flower Arrangements, the flower heads, at different stages of maturity and often displaying at the same time on the same stem, have been cut and rearranged in ‘unnatural’ configurations as constructed portraits. The complex beauty of the weed that thrives in wasteland is heightened by its isolation within an interior space reminiscent of the opulent surroundings of society portraiture.

© Helen Sear


In partnership with LOOK/15 Liverpool International Photography Festival