Helen Richards

The natural environment is my painting obsession as I form connections with my home surrounds and link the way place can create a sense of belonging and connection to nature around. I have worked from my home studio in Burnett Heads (at the beginning of Queensland’s Barrier Reef) for the last 13 years and was creatively motivated by the location and the relaxed atmosphere it offered. At the end of 2020, I relocated closer to Brisbane and my new home and studio are in the hills surrounding the Lockyer Valley. Here, my subject matter continues to be informed by the natural environment: whether it’s trees, my potted plants waiting to be put into the garden, the birds or the hills and mountains. 

Having initially studied Fabric and Textile design before I started painting, I also find that I’m increasingly taking many cues from the mid-century modern tapestries and interior fabric design that graced my family home growing up in Brisbane. 

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My paintings start by creating an emulsion of spontaneous paint applications using stencils, cardboard shapes and a variety of brushes as the paint meets the canvas. Taking inspiration from sketches of my home environs has been led by the play between pattern and colour to vibrant and dramatic effect. Once the underpainting is completed, I explore line and composition to capture colour, texture and shape to generate two dimensional narratives of this connection to flora and fauna and my response to it. My underlying thought while creating the compositions is to encourage the viewer to question their urban environment and rethink their relationship with the natural environment.