Preview: Helen Frik – Difficult

Helen Frik, Happiness With Less visits The Hard Worker. Courtesy the artist and SNS REAAL Fonds. Photo © Matthijs van Roon

Exhibition: Helen Frik – Difficult, Chapter, Cardiff, until May 9 2010

Most art shows demand just time and attention. This one put out an urgent appeal for homemade soft toys. Along with the usual mental graft, it required considerable craft.

Many snips and stitches later, these objects can be enjoyed with childlike wonder. Helen Frik has amassed a sea of them, so you can marvel at all the hard work they represent.

The exhibition is, after all, called Difficult, which is something contemporary art has a reputation for being. Perhaps it is even harder to make than to enjoy.

A nearby sound installation presents you with a challenging stream of noise, but now and then it becomes music. Again, the process counts for as much as the pleasure.

This is Frik’s first solo show in a UK public institution. It deals, on the face of it, with everyday travails and the obstacles we all face and which give life its meaning.

But perhaps such difficulty also gives meaning to art. The installations and drawings on display here can at times resist interpretation, and therein lies their charge.

Written for Culture24.

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