Bluebutter Idles

Marten, Helen
A sculptor who continually shifts between two- and three-dimensional modes, Helen Marten makes videos and wall-based works and free-standing sculptures. Speaking about her sculptural assemblages, Marten describes her approach as ‘getting to the peripheries of a place – to somewhere on the edges – where things can’t quite be named with certainty.’ She goes on to say: ‘what I’m aiming at is the triggering of an avalanche of overlaps, a piling-up of absurdities.’ Bluebutter Idles resembles a ‘dumpster, trough or cradle’. Its deceptively familiar form is a repository for an elaborate sculptural tableau, in which organic and inorganic items form an oblique ‘archaeological anagram’. Marten is interested in the point at which diagrammatic clarity breaks down. According to the artist, her sculptures are ‘vehicles for gathering sociological dust’ which refuse the viewer the satisfaction of a resolving punch line.
  • Artwork Details: 140 x 120 x 83cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: Welded power coated steel, stitched fabric, french polished cherry wood, Valchromat, airbrushed steel, hand embroidered fabric, cast bronze, wicker, cast plaster, woven straw, leather, fired clay, shell, butter, rubber petal
  • Credit line: Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist. Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund
  • Theme:
  • Medium:
  • Accession number: ACC12/2014



The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.