rob leeson photo the jefferson grid solo show portrait with textiles 

I see myself as a multidisciplinary artist who works in series format. I've been practising for twenty-five years but have been a professional artist since 2013.  In my art making I often take something from the past, connect to it in the present and turn it into something new.  This process provides an avenue to express my quest for transformation and reconciliation on a personal and collective level.  My art is about the human desire for love to win over hate and aggression.  By excavating the past though memory, historical documents, literature and dreams - facing it in the present - it can then be transformed into new imagery in a symbolic act of commemoration, reparation and restoration.

I thread together my love of textiles, psychology, history, human rights, dreams and nature.  I predominantly work in ink and gouache on paper and historical documents though in my exhibition work I often include embroidered and quilted textiles and oil and acrylic paintings if the concept lends itself to those mediums.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 healing or transformation process.  This can include letting go, grieving, facing death and loss, working through change and transition and the development of the soul and spirit through the life cycle.

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.