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CONNECTING with Helen Starr


The 3rd interview in our series 'CONNECTING: Collectors' is with Helen Starr, an Afro-Carib curator and producer who moved to the UK from Trinidad in the early 90’s. She founded The Mechatronic Library in 2010, to enable artists and museums to create artworks using new media technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Helen Starr has worked with award winning public institutions such as the South London Gallery, FACT in Liverpool and QUAD in Derby.⠀

Starr is interested in how Virtual, AI and digital systems no longer simply model physical reality, but also shape the way we behave and act with or without our knowledge and consent. These digital artworks are showcased in thought provoking multimedia exhibitions accompanied by insightful public programmes. Community, healing and learning are the core of Starr’s practice.⠀

1) How has spending more time at home during the lockdown changed your relationship with or understanding of your collection/ an artwork that you own?⠀

Artists seem to have an uncanny ability to look into the future and especially to see how future culture will evolve. I am very much enjoying the artworks bought 20 years ago that predicted this moment would come. Early works by Gregory Crewdson, Takashi Murakami and Inez van Lamsweerde⠀ ⠀


2.) Where are you looking to find new artists/artwork? ⠀

Digital platforms supplying deep engagement with artist/ curator talks/ podcasts and democratic sharing of the arts via mass participation projects⠀ ⠀



Deep Engagement:⠀

QUAD, Derby⠀

Camden Art Centre⠀ ⠀

Mass Participation:⠀

FACT, Liverpool - Augmented Empathy mass participation ⠀

Format Festival’s mass participation response to the lockdown crisis:@massisolationFORMAT⠀ ⠀


3. What artist(s) are you most excited about right now?⠀

Anna Bunting Branch⠀

Aliyah Hussain⠀

Danielle Braithwaite-Shirley⠀

Salma Noor⠀

Rebecca Allen⠀

Uzoma Orji⠀

Phoebe Collings James⠀

Megan Broadmeadow⠀

Brandon Covington

Sam-Sumana ⠀ ⠀

4. Has this period impacted on the way you might collect in the future? If so how?⠀

I will be focusing my collecting on born digital artworks.⠀ ⠀


5. What do you feel needs to happen now for the visual arts to weather this storm? ⠀

More international perspectives, new commercial models, less reliance on the top 1% collectors, more democratisation of the arts.⠀


Image credit:

Image 1: Anna Bunting- Branch, still from 'META' 2019, (360 degree film, 15mins)⠀

Image 2: Anna Bunting-Branch and Aliyah Hussain, 'Warm Worlds and Otherwise', 2019, Installation view, 'you feel me_', curated by Helen Starr, FACT, Liverpool. Image by Rob Battersby. ⠀

Image 3: ‘Perceive’, Salma Noor, 2019. Part of the visual identity for ‘you feel me_’ curated by Helen Starr at FACT, Liverpool.


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