“The force of nature is a constant presence in my work, exciting, exhilarating and inspiring me. There seems nothing more central or more important to humanity. Uncontrollable, chaotic, and potentially devastating, it serves as a reminder of our tentative place here. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a huge mass of cloud being formed by nature and creating an explosion of textures, shapes, and movement, stretching perception and reality to an extreme. In the context of our times, it is sad but these images also remind us of the destructive plumes of poisonous man-made clouds from the explosion of war. To attempt to capture nature’s chaos with marks on paper is an impossible yet compelling challenge. Let’s hope this war comes to an end soon and we can focus on the natural world and address our negative impact on it.”Helen Jones
The Bristol-based artist Helen Jones launched our window gallery on Wine Street with the pieces Smoke Screen I & II (Black pastel on tracing paper), and has shared with us her paths and inspirations.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming an artist?
Meandering and unfocused. I’m from a working-class family and there was no route map to this kind of career; my cultural capital was pretty low. Art exhibitions were not on the weekend itinerary. I worked in children’s homes and trained to be a social worker but always felt I was going in the wrong direction. After having kids I went back to uni and did an art degree, and for the past 12 years have been a studio-based artist alongside teaching art. I’m happy to say that I’m now training in Art Psychotherapy, so hopefully, my skills and life experience are coming into alignment to help others.
The themes of storm, skies, and clouds are predominantly in your work, can you tell us more about it? Why those themes?
Nature is my inspiration, as a dyslexic school kid in the 1980s I spent a lot of time gazing out of classroom windows, across the sports fields, watching the crows dancing and the clouds sailing by. Never really focussing on lessons, it’s no surprise I didn’t achieve academically. So all my life’s ventures have been hindered, and straightforward pathways closed off. I often revert to sky gazing. I see the elements as both something to shelter from and something to escape to. I feel I can voice our inner turmoil by making images that blast you with an icy wind and knock you off balance.
What activities or routines make you inspired? Do you have a process to reach your creative potential?
Walking in the wilderness, heading to the land’s edge or a mountain’s peak. But living in a city I often have to make do with urban waterways and parks. I need time, and space to relax in my studio, and music is often an important ingredient.
What is your favourite coffee or tea?
A latte (but only occasionally) it’s my favourite, but for health, I go for an Americano once a day and then lots of Redbush tea!
What is your advice to artists that are starting up?
Have an alternative career support your creative practice and apply for everything.
If you had no constraints at all, what would be the most daring thing you would do in your practice?
Travel to the world’s areas of vast wilderness to make films, photos, and drawings that capture the power and fragility of the planet and our place here.
You can find more about Helen’s work on www.helenjonesart.com