Helen Simmonds

Home Artists Helen Simmonds
Paintings
About

Paintings

About

Born 1962

Education

 

1980-82           Hertfordshire College of Art and Design, Foundation Studies

1982-85           Degree (Hons) Fine Art, Sculpture, Bath Academy of Art

 

Solo Exhibitions

2014, 2016      Solo show at Beaux Arts Bath

2012                New Paintings, Alexander Gallery, Bristol

2009-2013       Jonathan Cooper, Park Walk Gallery, London

2008                ‘Mise-En-Scenes’ Morgan-Boyce Gallery, Marlborough

 

Selected Exhibitions

2017

‘Artists of Fame and Promise’ Summer Show- Beaux Arts Bath

‘Still’ still life exhibition- Beaux Arts Bath

London Art Fair, Islington London with Beaux Arts Bath

 

2016

‘Artists of Fame and Promise’ Summer Show- Beaux Arts Bath

London Art Fair, Islington London with Beaux Arts Bath

LAPADA fair, Mayfair London – Beaux Arts Bath

 

2015

Christmas Mixed show at Beaux Arts Bath

‘Artists of Fame and Promise’ mixed show at Beaux Arts Bath

 

2014               ‘Secret Lives’ mixed show at Beaux Arts Bath

2013                Beaux Arts Bath, Artists of Fame & Promise, Summer Exhibition

 

2012

Beaux Arts Bath, Small Works for Christmas

Holburne Museum Portrait Prize

Autumn Exhibition, Royal West of England Academy

Lynn Painter Stainers Prize, Mall Galleries

Works on Paper Fair, Science Museum, London

 

2011

Autumn Exhibition Royal West of England Academy

Alexander Gallery, Bristol

 

2009-12           Jonathan Cooper Park Walk Gallery

2009/12          BADA Antiques Fair London

2009-15           The British Art Fair 20/21, Royal College of Art London

2008                Edinburgh Art Fair

2007                Oxemann Open Art Exhibition, Devizes Museum

2005/6            Wine Street Gallery, Devizes

2004                Gallery 39, Swindon

2000                Hot Bath Gallery, Bath

 

Awards

1985                Gains Trust Travel Scholarship

2011                Royal West of England Academy Public Choice Prize

 

Catalogue Essay

As a gallery fortunate enough to be hosting a collection of work by Helen Simmonds, there is a certain anticipatory warmth in the commonly heard remark  I don’t usually like still lifes, but…  It may presage  a short silent moment of chin-stroking circumspection – a dawning recognition that these predominantly small, modest paintings have an evocative or emotive air about them that is not readily describable.  Slow in creation, they are invested with deliberation and long hours of looking, their contemplation engendering a similar, rewarding sense of lasting calm. Slowing down to look is a natural reaction.

The works mainly feature selections from the artist’s collection of small ceramics, bottles and enamelled vessels.  The jug and ladle are recognisably Victorian;  other preferred objects are the oriental porcelain cups and vases, their surfaces decorated with musicians, dancers and temple visitors. These various  objects are, it seems clear, beloved,  imbued with significance as heirlooms or gifts, as well as their whispered depictions of other worlds.   At times the pottery and enamel shimmer among the shadows with their soft china-blue and light orange detailing. Other plates and bowls slice and upset the background  hush with a humming crescent or blazing splash of irridescent saffron glaze.

Simmonds’ studio is a bright attic overlooking a townscape criss-cross of rooftops.  The Marlborough Downs are visible in the distance and the chatter of workers on a break audible outside the window.  Within this capsular space the ceramics and flowers are slowly choreographed into her familiar compositions. Behind the closed studio door she comes to terms with the outside world’s restlessness  and bustle, making  peace with it through the hard-won discipline and freedom of painting.  She is the epitome of Girogio Morandi’s description (of himself) as ‘ essentially a painter of the kind of still life composition that communicates a sense of tranquility and privacy, moods which I have always valued above all else.’ 

Despite its long intertwining with the history of art and its currents of wealth, religion, patronage and power, still life is perhaps overly-familiar as a genre in our noisy world and is too often served cold and hyper-real.  We have evolved in terms of medium, subject matter, concept.  It is the antithesis of our voracious, image-hungry zeitgeist.  Why contemplate and get to know the depiction of simple objects within an arms-length of space on a table, when one can instead binge on a knowing and graphic digital firmament.

It is this that makes an artist like Helen Simmonds a revolutionary.  We are looking at a quest for, if not an exercise in, equanimity and her work leads us, rapt, into silence.  Simmonds is capable of  re-enchanting the everyday ordinary utensil, revivifying and suspending for us the short precious life-span of a beautiful flowering plant.  To look at this work is to be guided from a viral, hurried world to a simple non-knee-jerk, non-reductive essence, aptly summed up  by writer Patrick McGuinness.  Less is not always more. Sometimes it is everything.

 

Press

BBC Homes and Antiques

Artists and Illustrators Magazine

Elle Decoration

Matchbox

Leisure Painter

Western Daily Press

ART Magazine

JOYCE Magazine, Madrid