My life in art begins and ends with the Scottish landscape and a deep desire to translate and communicate this in my practice. Through intense dedication to paint, Tatha Gallery, and the artists I work alongside, I have developed an awareness of who I am within my surroundings and what it means to be a working artist in Scotland.

My interest and attention to the links between landscape and abstraction has followed me through my 19 years as an artist, weaving its way with fluctuating emphasis through my ideas and practice.  There are strong influences from the effects of the elemental nature of the wilds of Scotland and then there are times that the American Expressionists exert their importance upon my psyche. There are periods of restraint where simplicity serves a purpose with a nod to Malevich concepts of saying more with less. DY Cameron also has a lot to answer for, often reminding me about the realities of form. But like Joan Eardley and Frances Walker the rhythms of the land and sea time after time pull me back to a place where I am most at ease.

There are three major areas to my ever-developing practice as a painter and there is no correct way of ordering them. They could be considered an amalgam, or a cacophony or at best perhaps a balance of moments. It begins with my relationship with the remote areas of Scotland; locations so physically and geographically powerful and intense that it’s hard not to be affected by the spirit of place. There’s a solace to be found in the edges, the margins, the hills and the coasts, and I quite contentedly acknowledge the romantic Victorian visions of the gloom and the glory found in the grandeur of the hills.

My painting isn’t however purely to be seen as landscape, rather evocations or mindscapes that reflect Northern Ideology. Serenity, melancholy, remoteness, absence, and belonging soak in through the surfaces. They are places without names,  but often looking to the North or perhaps up with hope, simple washes and minimal brushwork in places suggesting movement showing the duration of time passing. Graphite lines flowing fast or perhaps stuttering with the all important interludes and pauses of calm and space acting as metaphorical suggestions to transitional spaces explored by John Cage. They denote and connect with the Psychology of personal conscious, the area in our minds where we keep things safe or indeed hidden. Transitional spaces are where reality is not demanded but also not ignored.

My work is about these spaces, edges and borders in life, the thin line between visibility and obscurity, the sodden moorland fringes, the crystal clear, calm waters edge, where the sky rests upon the hazy horizon, the fudge between madness and sanity, between danger and safety.

While working I am simply portraying how I feel the place I am in, sometimes wild,  grey, misty and cold  but nonetheless incredibly beautiful and reassuring to me. I watch and listen and paint the all-important breathing and intermediate spaces, the places that let us see the boundaries with better clarity.  A place where I feel at home, I don’t want to paint an imaginary utopia. I want to explore and make sense of my environments, both external and internal.

I believe that art has the potential to softly communicate, to share across all boundaries.

The below film – an excerpt from French-German production company Arte’s Metropolis: Dundee – features Helen in her home and studio in Newport-on-Tay. Filmed in 2019 | Full film and credits can be found here