Artwork for Helen Arthur
The winter hush (etching)
Skirrid Gallery, Helen's venue
The leet, Cloddock
Helen Arthur in her studio
The way through, Olchon Brook
Moccas Hill Wood (etching)
We rode the daft and happy hills (after Dylan Thomas)
All the moon long (after Dylan Thomas)
When a landscape becomes meaningful to you, it gets under your skin to create vivid memories. My paintings and prints capture that…
There’s a kind of wild light here on the edge of the Brecon Beacons – you see *all* the weather and the seasons feel extreme. This works on my creativity in an inescapable way. Some of the paintings are wild and gestural. Some more serene and lyrical. On the one hand, I'm drawn to the vistas and imposing mountain views with big skies: on the other, I photograph, draw and etch the intimacy of enclosed woodlands and hedgerow spaces.
In my dual practice, I search out both the wide space beyond as well as the narrow spaces between. Although my work is representative, it is first and foremost an expressive interpretation, so I'm always seeking to push the abstraction in what I do. My practice is rapidly evolving and often surprising. I'm intrigued as to where the continuing exploration will take me.
Being an artist... hmmm. I'd say you need a love of experimentation and a fearless approach. You need to let go of self criticism, or too much awareness of your audience, and patiently let the process and your responses guide you and give you satisfaction. There's the joy of exploring and mastering materials, but there's also the challenge of identifying and capturing your emotional connection to the world around you and what you want to say about it through art. The whys and wherefores are not the easiest to put into words, so let the colour, the marks and the paint / ink tell the story, I say.
Lockdown was tough on everyone but I found solace in having extra time to discover a passion for landscape painting. This was after starting out as a playful, illustrative printmaker about 6 years ago.
My special place is in the Brecon Beacons – you’ll find me in my stone-built studio in the remote Olchon Valley, under the shadow of Offa’s Dyke and Hatterall Hill. The Cat’s Back and Skirrid mountains bookend the ridge. If I'm not in there, I'm in my garden. My children suffer benign neglect, it's fair to say.
It’s a bit of a schlepp, but I can guarantee once you get here, you won’t feel let down… This part of the world offers escapism and breathtaking views – a primary ingredient in my art making. My cottage garden (also fundamental to creativity, humble opinion) is a riot of colour too, so fingers crossed for some sun, and you can relax out there during your visit.
My art practice is open and evolving. I take photographs, sketch (inside and out), and draw or paint in mixed media most days (obsessive, yes!) A lot of work is created in sketchbooks and on paper; it's not for "sale" as it's is all about process, discovery, abstraction and knowledge gathering. When I work on larger "formal" pieces, I find myself gesturing towards the recognisable natural world, though it' s my mission for the art to become more abstracted as my practice evolves.
I also combine visual work with creative writing and have a pamphlet to give away – "Dylan Thomas, the rogue savant" – when you visit.
I have resumed tutoring workshops across Herefordshire. Please do contact me directly for information through my website and newsletter for updates. From time to time I take local landscape commissions. My practice is mainly self generated however, as this allows me to follow my own enquiries. I love to share my space with visitors though, and private viewings can be booked at any time.
Following, successful application for Arts Council Funding, I'm co-curator of the Mappa Marches touring exhibition, aiming to support up to 8 other artists in the marches region. We showed the mixed discipline work around the border counties for nearly a year, starting at HARC, Rotherwas, in January 2022 and finishing at The Sidney Nolan Trust, Presteigne in October 2022. We have also just had a small group show at The Art shop and Chapel, Abergavenny.
I'm represented full-time at The Courtyard, Hereford and Bluestone Gallery, Hay on Wye.
I tutor a monthly printmakers' club in Longtown (groups of 8-10), and teach with the Sidney Nolan Trust and Ewyas Harold Craft Centre. I am also available to teach at venues of your choice and offer "Art Parties" and family workshops in my studio.
Crickhowell Open 2023, 2022, 2018
Made in the Marches, December 2022
Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, London, November 2022
“The Perfect Hill” group show - Malvern October to November 2023 / Ludlow Assembly Rooms (July to September 2022)
Mappa Marches - ongoing touring exhibition, including Sideny Nolan Trust
Visiting exhibitor – Court Cupboard Gallery – May to July 2022
Ironbridge Fine Arts 2021
RCA Open, Conwy, North Wales 2021
Bluestone Gallery, Hay on Wye
The Courtyard, Hereford
Skirrid Gallery, Longtown
Ironbridge Fine Arts (Linocut and etching prints)