Helen Rhodes : Butterflies and Birds
Helen Rhodes will be exhibiting again in 2014 at the Loughborough NGS Open Gardens & Secret Craft Fair. I went to visit her at her studio for a chat about her new work and products.
“I’m working on about eight commissions at the moment – ranging from a tiny picture for a child, to larger pieces as wedding gifts. I’m also working on a triptych that will be printed onto large tiles for a bathroom, I’ve never done anything like that before and I’m really excited to see how it works out.”
Many of the commissions are very personal – for example one tells the story of a couples engagement, others are to remember special holidays or places, one lady asked for a work for her 60th birthday containing elements from her childhood and life. Many of the themes Helen uses in her work such as houses, flowers, butterflies, birds and animals are used within these images.
Rows of knitted owls were neatly lined up on one part of the work desk where Helen had been photographing them. “I’ve been making owls for a few years, I made the first ones for my children. I really enjoy knitting and putting the colours together. They’re really ornaments but some people use them as toys or mascots.”
There was a lot of work around – Helen’s been sorting and getting ready for her Open Studio at the weekend. Some of the images on her cards in particular go back as far as 2006 and look as contemporary and as fresh as when they were first made. Helen pointed out her brother’s dog Mabel in one image, and three rabbits sitting on the brow of a hill representing herself and her two children.
There’s a pile of work in progress on her work desk, “It’s a little bit like a nest, I get bored really easily so I flit between a number of things at the same time. I like to have a lot on the go – this keeps the work and my ideas fresh.” The desk reminded me of a magpie’s nest – chaos and jewels.
One of the new pieces ‘A Day for Rainbows’ was inspired having to push through bee and butterfly filled lavender hedges flanking a path to get to the front door of a friend’s house. Helen showed me a gravy boat given to her by her father-in-law, and how she was using the acorn design in another work.
Helen has developed some new notebooks and tea towels.
“I love notebooks and I’d customised a few with my own design, then I decided I’d like to make some, so I’ve created a set of three with garden themed designs. I think making things that I’d want is always a good place to start – I’d love to make some bangles next.”
“I can’t wait to do the Secret Craft Fair, I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll be the third year I’ve done it and it’s a lovely weekend event to be involved. I love talking to the public, and there’s always a great range of artists each year.”
Helen will be at the NGS Open Garden and Secret Craft Fair on the 7th & 8th June in Loughborough. You’ll find her work in the greenhouse.