Helen Rhodes, Artist

Helen Rhodes is an artist and designer who works from her studio in the village of Rothley in Leicestershire. Helen creates original paintings on paper using different media. They are highly decorative and colourful, simple compositions with intricate patterns. The main inspiration for her paintings is nature. She has a range of limited edition prints and greeting cards and has put her designs on different china products.

I’ve known Helen for along time, but we’ve been in touch a lot more since she came on a course at The Refectory Table about a year or so ago. Helen exhibited at my first Secret Craft Fair in 2012, so I’m really looking forward to her taking part again at the NGS Open Garden & Secret Craft Fair on the 15th & 16th of June 2013.

I asked Helen about her work and gardens.

What are you currently working on? I’m currently producing work for the Summer shows in June and July, which has involved choosing new images for my cards and mugs and four new limited edition prints. I’m lucky to have several large commissions to work on which are keeping me very busy.

How do gardens inspire your work?  My work has always involved flowers, trees and the wildlife found in gardens particularly birds. They are mainly painted from my imagination when I’m painting my own work and I really love creating these beautiful imaginary landscapes. I am often commissioned to paint a persons house and with it their garden containing plants and trees which are significant to them.

Our cat Oscar inspired me to do a little sketch of him stretched out on the decking absorbing every bit of sun we have.

What will you be bringing to the secret craft fair? I’ll be bringing some paintings, prints and cards as well as my china mugs, trinket boxes and porcelain brooches. My new hand-knitted bumblebees will be making an appearance too!

We all have memories and experiences of gardens, what is your –

Earliest memory? My earliest memory of a special garden was my Gran and Grandpa’s. They had an amazing, magical garden with lots of different nooks and crannies where my brother, sister and cousins could disappear and play for hours on end. I loved pretending to paint the fence with just water in a bucket but it really had the effect of shiny paint! Simple pleasures!

Strangest happening? There’s not been anything that strange happen in our garden but I do remember laying the turf for our new lawn and not being able to find anything that would cut the shapes and curves I needed.  So, I got my best dressmaking shears (which I would only allow to be used to cut fabric) and cut the turf with them. I don’t know what came over me but they can now be used for anything!

Happiest time? The happiest times at the moment are seeing our children playing in the garden. 

It’s a small space but our little boy spends hours kicking his football against the wall. He did this day after day until the lawn had been reduced to a muddy patch. I thought my husband would go mad when he saw it but he just smiled and said, “that’s the sign of happy kids”! Their trampoline now obscures my view from the kitchen window but they have a lot of fun on it and I love hearing their squeals of delight. I’ve also found you can get a good view of other people’s gardens when bouncing up and down!

Finally, what sort of a gardener are you? I do love growing plants and vegetables and usually have a grow bag or two with tomatoes and runner beans.

A couple of years ago I took some seeds from some gorgeous hollyhocks in Barrow upon Soar, which were just growing wildly as they do. For the last two years they’ve been stunning in our garden but unfortunately they haven’t come up this year.  I’ve always collected the seeds from them and will bring some to the Secret Craft Fair for anyone who would like some of “Helen’s Hollyhocks”.

You can see and purchase work by Helen Rhodes and other artists at the NGS Open Garden & Secret Craft Fair in Loughborough, Leicestershire on the 15th & 16th of June.  Come along and pick up some beautiful paintings, trinket boxes, knitted bumblebees and hollyhock seeds!

Website     http://www.helenrhodes.com

Twitter      @HelenRhodesArt

Facebook  www.facebook.com/pages/Helen-Rhodes/