Helen Sear RA Elect (b. 1955)

Helen Sear is a British visual artist whose practice focuses on the co-existence of human, animal and natural environments. Rooted in an interest in Magic Realism, Surrealism and Conceptual art, photography remains a central subject and medium in her practice and often challenges a fixed-point perspective associated with the single camera lens and landscape traditions. Working in rural contexts and through processes of printing, layering and mark making, she draws attention to the skin of the image and the extraordinary in the overlooked. At the site where image meets substrate and the view merges with the surface of the eye, internal desire and external reality become porous and exchangeable.

Born in 1955 in Banbury, Sear studied Fine Art at Reading University and University College London, Slade School, where she worked with mixed-media installation, performance and video. Her photographic works became widely known in the 1991 British Council touring exhibition, De-Composition: Constructed Photography in Britain.

Recent solo exhibitions include Natural Fantastic at Martin Asbaek Gallery, Copenhagen, 2024, and Within Sight at Fotografia Europea, Reggio Emilia, 2024.

Group exhibitions include: Unearthed: Photography’s Roots at Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2020; Chalk, Wood and Water, Pallant House, 2022, and Dialektik der Präsenz at DZ bank, Frankfurt, 2023.

Sear represented Wales with the solo exhibition …the rest is smoke at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

Her work in public collections include Arts Council England, The British Council, Museum of Fine Art Houston (Manfred Heiting Collection), The National Museum of Wales, and the Government Art Collection.

Sear has taught at many UK institutions and was Reader in Photography and Fine Art at University of Wales, Newport, between 2007 and 2015. She was visiting Professor at the RA Schools between 2014 and 2019.

Dewi Lewis published her most recent book Era of Solitude in 2021.

Helen Sear is represented by Martin Asbæk Gallery Copenhagen.


Royal Academician


Born: 1955 in Banbury

Nationality: British

Elected RA: 19 March 2024