rob leeson photo the jefferson grid solo show portrait with textiles

"In the depth of my soul there is a wordless song - a song that lives in the seed of my heart".        Kahlil Gibran

My art practice is a search to uncover the timeless and universal.  I am usually drawn to a dialogue between the old and new.  From a young age I have found beauty in the aged, frayed, worn and faded aspects of people, objects and life.  I have a profound love of earth, wood, stone, paper and fabric.  I tend to find beauty in imperfection and want to capture that in my art.

As a child I lived in an Ironbark forest and it was like a container that held me closely.  It provided a space for me to explore my curiosity and imagination.  It was the place where I developed a great respect for nature.  As I have aged I now wish to thank nature for how it supported me when I was young.  It feels like a connection that changes and deepens with time.  

In my art making I have the opportunity to thread together my love of textiles, psychology, history, human rights, dreams and nature.  I predominantly work in ink and gouache on paper and with historical documents though in my exhibition work I often include embroidered and quilted textiles and oil and acrylic paintings if the concept lends itself to those mediums. I use motifs from textiles such as tassels, threads, knitting, weaving, knots, frayed edges to represent the imperfections in myself and nature as well as the healing or transformation process.  

Since my involvement in the international #UHDR Quilt Project by Tal Fitzpatrick (Australia) and Stephanie Dunlap (USA) in 2016-17 I have developed a strong social art/craftivism focus through my ongoing collaboration 'Yumi Olgeta: Crafting a More Inclusive Democracy' with the Australian South Sea Islanders Port Jackson in Sydney and the Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House, Canberra.  Together we use embroidery and applique workshops to create spaces for participants to digest painful truths about Australia's Slave Trade history of blackbirding which took place between 1847 - 1908. 

Helen acknowledges the Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri people of the lands on which she works and pays her respects to Indigenous Elders past, present and emerging. Sovereignty has never been ceded. It always was and always will be, Aboriginal land. She also acknowledges Australia's Slave Trade history and pays her respects to those blackbirded from the South Seas and their descendants.