Artist, painter, researcher and educator: Introducing Dr Helen Billinghurst
Multi-disciplinary artist, educator, researcher and writer, Dr Helen Billinghurst, has been appointed as a Lecturer for the BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking course. With a background as a filmmaker, Helen has a practice as a walking artist, and also engages with painting, drawing, assemblage and performance.
Her recent doctoral thesis at the University of Plymouth explored the intersection between painting, drawing and aesthetic walking, and her research interests include the performance of making, site-specificity and embodied process.
Helen is an associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an alumni associate fellow of the University of Plymouth. She is a member of the research groups 'Performance. Experience. Presence.', 'Land2', and the 'Walking Artists’ Network'.
Her background offers students an eclectic and extensive knowledge of painting, drawing and performance, with a range of technical expertise and an understanding of these practices in modern conditions.
Helen said: “My process as an artist engages with the wider fields of contemporary drawing and painting, looking at the relationship between the outside world and the art that we create. But I’m also very much still a technical painter, excited to come back to the studio at Plymouth College of Art and share these traditional painting skills with students.”
Stephanie Owens, Head of School, Arts + Media, commented about the appointment: “We’re very pleased to welcome Helen to Plymouth College of Art. Her expertise and technical abilities will contribute greatly to the material based practices and critical study employed in the Painting, Drawing & Printmaking course, supporting the hands-on processes and encouraging creative thinking.”
Helen works within a number of different practices in her own projects. Since submitting her doctoral research in 2018, Helen has continued to develop this study with mythogeographer, writer and Associate Professor at the University of Plymouth, Dr Phil Smith. Together, they create artworks, poetry, performances and walks as part of an artistic collaboration, Crab & Bee, most recently working on the Arts Council England-funded project, Plymouth Labyrinth.
Regularly exhibiting her paintings and other works, Helen’s most recent exhibition, English Diagrams, took place in Plymouth’s historic Royal William Yard. This was a bricolage of painting, drawing and found objects, collated in a response to a series of walks across England over five years. Other accolades include publishing a paper with the Royal Geographical Society and having her work featured in the 4th World Congress of Psychogeography.
Helen said: “I came to academia later in life over a slow period of study, which has helped me to know that it can take a long time to find your voice as an artist. If you’re a painter today, you might also be working in photography, poetry or social practice. I hope that my own experiences, particularly thinking about how painting fits into a contemporary context rather than just being a landscape painting to sell in a gallery, will help students at Plymouth College of Art to better understand their own creative practices and the options that are available to them.”