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The late Helen Barnard studied American history, literature and film at the University of East Anglia, before attending Brandeis University in Boston, Massachusetts to study film and American culture. During this period she began to experiment and develop her visual arts practice. Our gallery began working with Helen Barnard a couple of years ago, excited to discover her stunning and unique work. Sadly after a brave battle with cancer, Helen passed away in September 2023. Within the gallery collection are her latest works that she continued to work on with such passion.
Helen’s work was always influenced by her love of Art Deco, drawing her inspiration from the design motifs, colour palette and literature that hail from the period of the 1920s and 1930s. Hollywood glamour in film from the 30s and 40s and the work of creative forces such as American art director, Cedric Gibbons, have had a strong influence on her work, as well as growing up in a highly creative household with many members of her family entering into the arts, including her uncle, the painter Roger Barnard.
Helen uses a restricted colour pallet inspired by classic Japanese artists, such as Sesshu Tōyō, and has a strong focus on texture and reflection. She achieves this by combining gold or silver leaf together with organic shapes of bold and clean design, distressed finishes and backgrounds. Her most recent collection focuses on landscape and on Alfred Hitchcock’s film version of ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier, with its fictional setting of Manderley in the 1930s. She combines a gold, copper or silver background with illustrative paintings of trees, satisfying her desire to echo reflections of the Art Deco period, classic literature, film and her love of the natural world.
Helen Barnard frequently works on commissioned work and with interior designers for projects, and exhibits regularly within the UK, these include: Ryebank Gallery Inaugural Open Call, Rye, (2022); Autumn Leaves Show, West End House Gallery (2022); Seaside Memories, solo exhibition, New Art Gallery (2022); Christmas Exhibition, West End House Gallery (2022); Summer Memories, The Hive Gallery, Westerham (2021); The Copse where we used to play and other memories, West End House Gallery, Smarden (2021); The Manderley Oak Series, Ad Lib Gallery, London (2021); Circles in Abstraction, Ethel Loves Me, Rye (2020); Sissinghurst Oaks, Greenfinch Gallery, Ticehurst (2020); Sevenoaks Summer, The Portico Gallery, Sevenoaks (2019); Summer Scenes, The Silver Sheep Gallery, Tunbridge Wells (2019).