Helen studied art foundation in Bristol, life drawing at RWA and has a BA Hons in Fashion textiles, with a subsidiary in archaeology. After a successful career in London as a designer and colourist in The British Fashion industry, she has worked with many of the big high street retailers, which included fabric mills all over the world, and was elected a member of The British Textile Colour Group working on trend and forecast. She has been commissioned to work on illustration projects throughout her working life, having been featured in Vogue and other magazines in her early career.
Helen now paints from her studio in West Yorkshire, on a commission basis and towards exhibitions. She says: “I admire the work of Japanese artists including Hokusai and printmakers of the Edo period. I was taught Japanese painting in Tokyo and love the simplicity and economy of line and mark making.” It was during her time living in India and visiting the far East that she established her love for the orient and Japanese painting methods which she continues to use in her practice today.
Now the British landscape: vales, hills, mountains, trees, seashores and beaches motivate and inform her work. In particular, she is drawn to light, colour and pattern. She says: “I'm intrigued by the interaction of wildlife and habitat. I aim to capture atmosphere, mood, pattern, movement, heightened colour and light.” Inspired by the elements, big skies and seas, swooping birds, receding horizons and texture come together in her practice. “I'm an emotional painter and convey my feelings within my movements with the brush. What I feel is as important as how I explore the paint. I often get lost in the process, within a flow of freedom and serenity. This helps me deal with my disability, which can be very painful. I look at symbolism in nature and use this as an inspiration and backdrop in all my work.”
Helen has lived with acute chronic arthritis since her early 20’s when she had malaria and dengue fever, resulting in an autoimmune response. She has lived at times painting from her bed for months following surgery. She keeps focused on what she can do, not what she can't. There have been some very dark times where life has been challenging but Helen has a lust for life and always seeks meaning in the day. She has dealt with her condition using meditation, mindfulness and visualisation techniques, often taking her mind to far away places and using her imagination to transform her thoughts. Her interest in fashion, geology, ecology and natural history make for a wide range of inspiration.
Helen’s aim is to create an emotional response to her surroundings and express herself through the balance between representation and abstraction. Her paintings and prints are about her emotional response to a scene, often from imagination and not always accurate representations, working outside and from memory and in the studio. She refers to her sketches and photos, taken when she explores the landscape. She says: “My work draws on imagination, memory and the close contact I feel with the landscape through years of looking, absorbing and being in touch with how I feel. By applying paint in spontaneous ways, coming originally from a classical fine art training and deviating into my own style, I aim to create energy in the image whilst still maintaining strong compositional balance. I work mainly in water-based paints on paper and canvas and oils in printmaking. I work energetically using Japanese brushes, sponges and mark-making tools. I often work on several pieces simultaneously, responding to the emerging image and the physical process of painting itself.”
Helen has exhibited in her own award-winning retail outlets/gallery at Darch and Duff London as well as OXO gallery London, Aldeburgh Gallery, W3 Gallery, Skylark Galleries London, Gunnersbury Mansion, London and Ealing BEAT open studios. Her work can be found in private collections worldwide. A large painting completed by Helen in 2019, of endangered red crowned cranes, can be seen at Hanwell Zoo in London. She is an avid supporter of the charity Explorers Against Extinction.
Helen works on a commission basis as well as selling online through Skylark galleries and has facilitated workshops over the last 5 years in drawing, painting and mindfulness with Ealing council, OPEN Ealing and Leeds Libraries. She has an adult learning teaching qualification and likes to inspire others by challenging and stretching their skills and imagination. Follow this link to find out more about Helen’s teaching workshops.