Artist Helen Lock stages her first solo exhibition with a tribute to local fauna

Helen Lock Picture: © Peter Allison

Artist Helen Lock’s great drive in life is being creative. She likes nothing better than walking in the bush surrounding her Mount Helena home with husband Greg, studying local flora and photographing plants as inspiration for future works.

Recently turned 70, British-born Helen has been busy preparing for her first solo exhibition, Stealing Like an Artist, at Kalamunda’s Zig Zag Gallery. The exhibition of 27 works are acrylics on 50cm stretched canvas featuring an Australian wildflower. Some feature the same flower in different styles and convey a different feeling, Helen says.

“My works for this exhibition are the result of a collision of inspirations which have been travelling along with me for some years and, to my surprise, collided in late 2019,” she said.

“As a teenager I was inspired by Pablo Picasso’s use of language as well as his art. His words: ‘good artists copy, great artists steal,’ resonated loudly in my brain years later when I read Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist.

“But it was not until my return from an epic trip around Europe in 2019 where I got to see firsthand many originals by master painters, that I felt compelled to learn from them and to incorporate them into what I do with Australian flora.”

Helen says the artists and works she has chosen for the exhibition are personal favourites, many seen on her travels.

“I anticipate that viewers will relate to my paintings with memories of the originals and appreciate how I have developed them. I want my audience to enjoy the adaptations of works or styles, to see something new and attractive in both the sources and the results.

“I hope to raise awareness of the beauty of Australian wildflowers and improve human relationship with our planet.”

Helen started work on her current exhibition in January last year. 

“I was in my studio every day during lockdown and managed to get a lot done. When my husband and I go places I take lots of photos of flowers for future inspiration.”

Growing up in the UK, Helen says she loved the sight of crocuses and daffodils popping up and receiving bouquets of flowers. 

“I wanted to show artistically the pleasure I receive from flowers. 

“I like having finished a painting, you have to be persistent and keep going. Husband Greg is my best critic”

For her current exhibition, Helen has drawn on works such as Edvard Munch’s The Scream, The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, Meditative Rose by Salvador Dali, the Cubist style of Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe’s fusion of realism and abstraction, the botanical art of Billy Showell, Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh, the bold shapes and outlines of Margaret Preston and the lush colours and bold strokes of Australian artist Pro Hart.

“I have been working to have a balance of sources, in terms of gender and nationality. I’m aware of copyright and plagiarism issues and believe that I have transformed or built on what came before  – that I’m stealing like an artist.”

Helen has had a busy working life from teaching, a long career in IT and emerging visual artist. 

“My life is a creative journey, my inspiration is usually the stunning design and beauty of flora and the drive to encourage others to preserve a healthy environment.

“I enjoy working with acrylics, watercolours, inks, ballpoint pens, coloured pencils, graphite, charcoal and threads.”

Group exhibitions include the Pastel Society of WA annual exhibition and art sale. St Mark’s Anglican Community School art exhibition and the Lions Club of Kalamunda art awards. She has also carried out various commissions. 

Helen Lock’s exhibition, Stealing Like an Artist, is at Zig Zag Gallery, 70 Railway Road, Kalamunda, 1 to 28 May. Helen’s art, of various kinds, can be seen on her blog