Helen Owen working in her studio

Biography

I was born on the outskirts of Preston in Lancashire. Growing up in the countryside led to my interest in nature and the formation of natural patterns. From a very early age, and throughout my childhood, I always created some form of artwork, but as I grew up other things in life got in the way.

Eventually, and as time allowed, I got back into artistic pursuits. I decided to attend recreational classes in landscape and portrait painting in oils. Painting, along with gardening, went on for a number of years.

In 1987 I completed a three year City & Guilds course in horticulture at Stourbridge College. Though I still painted, mainly for pleasure, deep down there was always a yearning to be a professional artist. I decided to make it a reality. In 1992 I attended Stourbridge College for a foundation in art and design, continuing on to complete a degree on the subject. I graduated from Birmingham City University with a first class BA (Hons) degree in 1997. Those five years of serious study brought many changes in my views, opinions and practices of art.

Influences and ideas

Most of my work is influenced by nature, pattern or personal experiences. It is my intention to involve the viewer, by creating a visual impact through the use of colour, pattern or optical illusion.

Working Practice

I now work in a wide variety of techniques and material: from colour, texture, pattern and contrast; to the effects created by the reactions and conflicts of the materials themselves.

Textile work

My exploration of stress began at the start of my degree, with the loss of my husband and a determination to cope against the odds. It was the constant battle against stress, time and the domestic environment that fuelled this work. I ploughed through many different materials and methods of working till I discovered the wrapping and stretching of striped fabric. I was particularly inspired by the optical effects and the ability to completely change a subject. I wrapped domestic objects and interiors so they could no longer serve their purpose, as they became redundant beneath a dazzling deterrent of op art pattern. Thus the domestic environment was transformed.

Creating the Textile Panels involves using appropriately patterned fabric, which is stretched and manipulated over wooden boarding. This distorts the pattern creating a deliberate op art appearance. The wood is sometimes worked before hand with holes or cuts for certain effects, or structural shapes are added to create bas – relief. Some pieces have many layers of fabric which are individually slit to reveal the underlying layers.

Exhibitions and Events

Due to personal obligations, I did not fully commit to artistic pursuits till 2004. Since then, at every opportunity, I partake in exhibitions, events, art fairs and commissions.

In 2007, a group of contemporary professional women artists were formed. This group is known as Take13. I am an active member of this group, and with whom I exhibit regularly.

Recently I joined The Birmingham Urban Sketchers and The black Country Urban Sketchers. Please see my blog for details about Urban sketching and the groups.