Helen Sear

‘Heroic Vegetables’

A Penpont Commission

The ancient virtues and great figures embodied in both history painting and the concept of heroism are no longer currency in contemporary art practice, or if they are, irony, humour, romanticism or pastiche are never far away. In approaching the commission at Penpont the history of the estate is hard to ignore.

Pineapples were known to have been grown at Penpont from the 1790’s as a symbol of wealth and power and it was this that first attracted me to the idea of representing the organic vegetables currently grown inside the walled garden and raising their status on a par with that of the ancestral portraits hanging in the front rooms of the estate.

Combining both the genre of still life with the dramatic skies often associated with large scale heroic painting, onions, garlic, artichokes and celeriac become the subjects of the everyday battle of the gardener against the elements and present these vegetables, separated from the earth, as both strange and beautiful.

Helen Sear 2009

onions with background of dramatic sky artichoke with background of dramatic sky vegetable,with background of dramatic sky vegetable with background of sunset sky garlic bulbs with background of moonlit sky