Helen Pailing

Newcastle & Gateshead

Helen Pailing is an artist-maker who seeks to redefine the possibilities of materials for sculpture and to ‘recraft waste’ materials into sculptures, assemblages and site-specific interventions using haptic knowledge to inform works.

The materials Helen uses are often a remnant from the process of making: glass from lamp-working; salvaged utilitarian materials; bed springs, window blinds, fixtures and fittings — all having their own history, form, structure and intention. Helen then stitches, wraps and weaves in response to them – using craft techniques to connect, transform and create new works that exist in a state of tension. The work therefore sits in a space between the bound, fixed and hand-made and the precarious unmade, as though the works could unwrap or unravel at any moment.

Larger modular installations occupy space in a provisional way as Helen reconfigures, reassembles and re-organises matter in spaces, often as a direct response to the location. All of this forms a playful engagement and collaboration between maker and matter.

An economy of means and material is an integral part of Helen’s process. Re-using materials destined for landfill is her own quiet activism, a way to bring awareness to seemingly non-precious or redundant ‘waste’ material and to celebrate the value within all matter.


Graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University with a BA (Hons) Embroidery in 2004, Helen continued to develop her interest in the material culture of craft studying MA Designer Maker at University of the Arts London, which she completed in 2012.

Helen was the 2013-14 artist in residence with Visual Arts in Rural Communities (VARC) and has lived in the North East ever since. In 2018 following on from her experience in community-based project management, she became Project Director of the Charity.

In 2019 Helen completed an AHRC funded, practice-based PhD from UoS (based at National Glass Centre) entitled Recrafting Waste Using a Stitch-Based Methodology: A Collaboration Between Makers and Matter. She has work in private and public collections including The V&A and National Glass Centre.

Skills & Experience

  • DBS Checked
  • Project management
  • Visiting lecturer (HE)
  • Visiting lecturer (FE)
  • Workshsops (adult)
  • Workshops (family / general)
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