MiAL’s Top Degree Show pick: Helen Wilson’s ‘Carol’

Over the degree shows, MiAL members picked out some of the artists and artworks that really stood out to them. As part of this we all put out arty/ design loving/ performative heads together to pick out one piece that really stood out for us in this years’ exhibitions, and we decided on Camberwell BA sculpture Helen Wilson and her piece ‘Carol’. And we must have good taste as not only she receive a First for her degree, Helen will also be showing her piece again in Showroom at High Holborn in September as part of ‘Show Motion’ which also includes MiAL artist Conall McAteer.

Helen has described her work as ‘an adventure into the everyday. Into the mundane. This world is predominantly re-played through video; projected or streamed through monitors. Tinged with subtle humour. Pinpointing the ridiculousness of the typical: of our gestures and our society.’  

We asked Helen to write about ‘Carol’ for this guest blog post.

‘Carol’ by Helen Wilson, Camberwell College of Art and Design, BA Sculpture 2014

The National Gallery[1], home of some Leonardo[2], Van Gogh[3] and Cezanne[4], employs wardens[5] to supervise the art- to protect it from the dangers of flash[6] and fingers[7].

At 4pm one day, an hour before closing, I stood still[8] opposite Mrs Oswald[9] watching her and the numerous rotating wardens.

After half an hour of standing, Carol, a warden asked me what I was doing; she wasn’t content with my response of “looking at the art” and so, after some more questions[10], realised that I was performing[11].

She talked to me about the gallery[12], curators and art historians[13], the economy[14], and her position in the establishment as an invigilator[15], which I was recording. I then mimed over an edited version of this conversation and projected this film of myself with Carol’s audio onto a wooden cut out[16].

Helen Wilson[17]

[1]London, WC2N 5DN

[2] Virgin of the Rocks, Room 57

[3] Sunflowers, Room 45

[4] Bathers, Room 45

[5]Commonly known as invigilators in contemporary art galleries.



[8] One day, perhaps the many waiters in our society will be replaced with projections like the Tensator Virtual Assistants standing patiently at train stations and airports.

[9]Johann Zoffany, 1763-4, Room 36

[10]What? Why do you like it? What is it that you like? You like this art do you? So, when you’re standing there looking at it, what do you think?

[11] I did this performance where I pretended to be an invigilator at Tate Britain, Hayward and South London Gallery also.

[12] “So snobby and posh, and there’s no atmosphere, it’s just like… cold and stuffy and I just think, hurry up, I just wanna get out.”

[13] “It’s an art gallery, it’s still stuck up, you got all these sort of snobs that will come in and some of these curators don’t even say hello to you, and they’ve been here years. You know, historians, the art historians, oh god knows how much money they earn, and the curators, they’ve never even spoke to me in all the years I’ve been here.”

[14] “I mean what young person would wanna come here? Cos there’s no jobs outside you see, and half the staff are all young girls, and they’ve all been to university and they can’t get nothing. And they’ve gotta end up in here and I’ve seen it all before- they end up spending the next twenty years here. Not that I went to university, the university of life but not university.”

[15] “The bloke that was running the place all those years ago says to me you’re like a pot plant in the corner. No one looks at you Carol, no one bothers to look at you. You’re just a pot plant in the corner. That’s what he said to me at the interview.”

[16] This piece will be exhibited at UAL Showroom, WC1V 7EY, from 2nd September.

[17]To see more of my work go to www.helenhelen.co.uk