“Vibrant, Unapologetic, Juicy”
I have loved Helen’s for a long time, and it was a pleasure to discuss her practice with her.
“Helen Beard’s stark colour-fields of female sexual experience are a thrilling celebration of carnal desire. Their surfaces are replete with rich textures that mimic the supple contours of the human body.”
(Pssst! A very exciting further collaboration with Helen is upcoming!!)
Helen, alongside the incredible Sarah Lewis of Felt Culture, and in collaboration with UNIT Drops, has released an eye-catching weekend bag that is available for pre-register over at @unitdrops
10% of proceeds going to RISE charity.
How would you describe your artistic practice in 3 words?
Vibrant, Unapologetic, Juicy
Helen, What has been the highlight of your career so far, and what is something you’re committed to fulfilling?
The True Colours show at Newport Street Gallery with Boo Saville and Sadie Laska - The gallery is such an amazing space and the work looked so good in there. It was my first major show and Damien was so excited about showcasing my work, the other two women artists in the show were great and I really enjoyed the whole experience.
I am doing my first residency at Reflex Amsterdam in 2022. I had a show there last year but because of the pandemic I didn’t actually get to go out and see it, so I am really looking forward to that.
What has been your experience of the art world so far, and what do you believe needs to be changed?
I think lots is changing already, with women championing women, and lots of online attempts at redressing the balance. But the major thing that needs to change is that museums worldwide need to address the diversity of work they have and add more work by women, LGBTQ artists and ethnic minorities to their collections, I know that the Guerrilla Girls have been highlighting it for years but the bias towards men is still so prevalent. Institutions like the Tate are trying to change this now but the progress is slow! Even today I read on @artgirlrising some statistics that are pretty astounding: that in March 2019, a group of researchers surveyed 18 of the most respected museums in America and found that work by Asian artists only totalled 9% of the collections, Black artists only made up 1.2% (despite making up 13% of the population) of their collections and Hispanic and Latino artists only about 3% (despite making up 18% of the population). Those percentages are pitiful and I know that the statistics for women aren’t that much better too!
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time:
What would the meal be?
A French feast of bouillabaisse with aioli and French bread!
Who would the artist be and why?
I am so shy that often if I meet someone I admire I clam up! So I would need talkative people to have dinner with: I would love to meet Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Annette Messager, Eva Hesse and Dorothea Tanning. Might be a lively dinner?
Sounds ideal. And, What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Damien Hirst encouraged me make my paintings big, he knows how powerful scale can be and it worked so well for my work.
Finish this sentence: I can’t live without.....
My wonderful children, my amazing friends and my dog Yoko - these are the things that give me joy everyday, so I can’t live without them!
I'm never sure the word 'guilty' is right... but What would be your guilty pleasure?
Can I have more than one? Even though I haven’t done some of them for a very longtime: I like going to the cinema in the afternoon, Lying in the sun with good book,
A good flat white, and a negroni! And I guess painting is a guilty pleasure as I get to do it everyday and I love it and it doesn’t feel like a job at all.
Who are you favourite contemporary artists and their Instagram tags?
Anna Liber Lewis @annaliberlewis
Sarah Lewis @feltculture
Michaela Yearwood Dan @artistandgal
Sadie Laska @sadielaska
Boo Saville @boosaville
Polly Borland @polly_borland
Christina Zimpel @christinazimpel @zimpelthings
Lena Dunham @lenadunham
Deborah E Roberts @rdeborah191
Gill Button @buttonfruit
Helen Downie @unskilledworker
Michaela Coel @michaelcoelweb
FKA Twigs @fkatwigs
Noel Fielding @noel_fielding
Victoria Villasana @villanaart
Sue Kennington @suekennington
Kate Mccgwire @kate_mccgwire
Rachel Howard @doris______press
Little Simz @littlesimz
Etel Adnan @eteladnandaily
Mika Simmons @thehappyvagina
Carol Rama @carol.rama
Tschabalala Self @tschabalalaself
Lynette Yiadom Boakye @lynetteyiadomboakye
David Shrigley @davidshrigley
Matt Carey Williams @mattcareywilliams
Celeste Burgoyne @madebyceleste
Loie Hollowell @loiehollowell
Bleue Burnham @bleueburnham
Gary Card @garycard