Brighton-based contemporary artist Helen Beard, will be showcasing her largest exhibition to date with It’s Her Factory, at Unit London gallery from the 7 September-6 October. It’s Her Factory introduces a new body of Beard’s large-scale, vibrant works, along with her first sculptural piece, which examine and challenge contemporary portrayals of sexuality, calling into question idealised and arguably unrealistic body expectations, promoting body positivity and empowerment, and breaking down taboos around female self-pleasure.
The exhibition’s title is taken from the eponymous song by British post-punk band, Gang of Four. At the same time, it references Andy Warhol’s factory and its lasting impact on the development of Pop Art today.
The exhibition follows Helen Beard’s inclusion in last year’s critically-acclaimed Unit London group exhibition, 21st Century Women, and True Colours at Damien Hirst’s The Newport Street Gallery, where she has exhibited a number of times before.
Beard’s practice also documents queer intimacy, ensuring that all types of sexuality and sexual activity, particularly those often censored in the media, are allocated due attention. Beard’s works promote a sense of openness around our bodies, emphasising that an individual’s power and authority over their body rests solely in themselves.
Her work has clearly struck a chord with the LGBTQ+ community, as participants of the recent Brighton Pride were seen sporting t-shirts featuring her artworks from the True Colours exhibition.
The compositions of Beard’s imagery, which predominantly focuses on close crops of the body, draw heavily on the artist’s 15-year career in the film industry. It was during this time that Beard studied the ways cinema photographers frame their shots, especially the tight angles and zoomed-in focus employed to imbue an image with tension and sense of narrative.
Beard’s application of oil paint adds to the sense of intimacy and desire. Though the canvases appear as blocks of colour from afar, their surfaces are abundant with rich textures that mimic the ripples and suppleness of human flesh. In the artist’s words, it is ‘like fingers stroking the skin’.
It’s Her Factory opens on September 7th at Unit London gallery
Photo by credit Lucy Emms