In this new series of articles, I will explore the local artists in our community. This will work to help deepen understanding of these brilliant minds. Both yours, and my own.
The first of these articles will be written on Helen Hardman. A volunteer at the D31 gallery, Helen is a stylishly dressed, kind hearted, wholesome individual. Upon hearing about these interviews, Helen was the first to jump on the chance to be the subject of an article.
Helen arrived while I was on my lunch break, but she waited at the reception until I returned. This already told me that we would get along well, and I was pleasantly proven correct.
Once seated, I ushered Helen into conversation about her art. Though the conversation took many tangential lines and routes, we found out much about one another.
Question: You are an artist, not just a volunteer. Would you mind if I asked you when you started with art?
Answer: I went to University to study Fine Art around 2005, but I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I started with dragons and dinosaurs.
That, readers, is a damn cool answer.
Question: How did you come to see art as a career since then?
Answer: I don’t really see art as my career. It’s more of a hobby. I was inspired by Frida Carlo and HR Geiger. And by my own schizophrenia.
Question: So, do you think art inspired you to have any other hobbies?
Answer: After art, I learned violin and I started to sing. Though, I can’t practice the violin with everybody working from home.
I don’t think any of us can blame her for that.
Question: How do your family feel about your art, as well as with your mental struggles?
Answer: My family have always been supportive. They liked my art when I was small and encouraged me. I remember Padre would tell me that my art was “Really coming together”.
A supportive family is always a good thing. Right, reader? It’s an unfortunate truth that many families aren’t supportive if you don’t follow their exact expectations and plan for you as you grow. But a supportive family can help you achieve amazing heights, regardless of your advances.
Question: Where do you see your future taking you? To art? Or somewhere else?
Answer: I Don’t really have a plan. I’m just going where the wind blows.
That resonates with me. You can’t plan for every eventuality, no matter how hard you try. So, why stress yourself with it?
After this, we spoke for a while about her art style. She told me that she isn’t afraid to make mistakes. She was no perfectionist. With her style, the mistakes become part of the whole. An “Intended Wrongness”. That’s a term that I adore. She also told me that a lot of her art comes from her dreams. And her nightmares. This led into a conversation between us about the nature of dreams and nightmares that got quite philosophical. I won’t bore you with this part.
As one final message, I’ll leave you all with a short quote from Helen. We were discussing the impact of her mental health on her life outside of art and comparing experiences.
“It may feel like the end of the world, but it’s not. It feels dark when you’re first into it, but there is life after.”