Helen Arthur | Artist & Printmaker

My family recently told me an anecdote: I have no memory of this, but when I was 11 years old I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up; my reply – a “local artist”. What a little oddball I was… Instead I went to Cambridge Uni to study literature and put my love of art on hold. I had a career as a copywriter, editor and digital strategist, training with the BBC, before running my own digital consultancy business for 15 years until January 2021.

I started out with printmaking in 2016. The trigger was an abandoned etching press, rusting in a garage. For two years, I nagged a relative to pass this on and finally got my wish. My dear stepdad, Jim, restored it in his workshop and handed it over. But could I even draw and design after a gap of nearly 30 years? No pressure then…

I attended weekly life-drawing sessions for 3 terms to improve my observation, patience and hand-to-eye coordination. This was alongside my art practice at home.

Life drawing in charcoal.

I’ve experimented and stretched myself, making plenty of mistakes or “happy accidents”. And I’ve funded my expensive hobby with the unrelated day job. Then there’s the benign neglect of my kids…

The two-storey studio came to life after I moved here, Longtown, after renovating the annexe to our home in 2019. With this dedicated space I decided to open to the public and started teaching linocut and etching printmaking.

Then in September 2020 I opened a gallery room in our home. This is because I now paint. I found the Covid-19 pandemic led to a shift in mindset for me (and many other artists, I’m sure) and I wanted to explore more media and take risks. Finding solace in place – because I’m so fortunate to live here in the beautiful Olchon valley – I started to paint abstracted landscapes.

I’m fortunate to continue this exploration of place, discovering new materials and pushing myself to become increasingly abstract.

Warm wishes for your ventures in art, whether that’s as a maker or a collector… I hope to see you at Skirrid Studio and Gallery.