Helen Glassford

Helen Glassford is an artist working on the North East Coast of Fife over looking Dundee. She was born in Lancaster and brought up in The Lake District, Cumbria.


She Studied at Carlisle Art College for year before going on to The Fine Art Drawing and Painting degree course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art , Dundee. She later completed a Masters of Fine Art in 2002.


My life in art begins and ends with the Scottish landscape and a deep desire to translate and communicate this in my practice. Through intense dedication to paint, Tatha Gallery, and the artists I work alongside, I have developed an awareness of who I am within my surroundings and what it means to be a working artist in Scotland.


My interest and attention to the links between landscape and abstraction has followed me through my 19 years as an artist, weaving its way with fluctuating emphasis through my ideas and practice. There are strong influences from the effects of the elemental nature of the wilds of Scotland and then there are times that the American Expressionists exert their importance upon my psyche. There are periods of restraint where simplicity serves a purpose with a nod to Malevich concepts of saying more with less. DY Cameron also has a lot to answer for, often reminding me about the realities of form. But like Joan Eardley and Frances Walker the rhythms of the land and sea time after time pull me back to a place where I am most at ease. There are several areas to my work and they could be considered an amalgam, or a cacophony, or at best perhaps a balance of moments. It begins with my relationship with the remote areas of Scotland; locations so physically and geographically powerful and intense that it’s hard not to be affected by the spirit of place. There’s a solace to be found in the edges, the margins, the hills and the coasts, and I quite contentedly acknowledge the romantic Victorian visions of the gloom and the glory found in the grandeur of the hills.


I grow shy, when I am painting; it feels self-indulgent, a diary of fleeting personal experiences that solidify on the flux of the easel. My practice of painting is as fickle as the wind that blows between the mountains I portray, as arrogant as the imposing rock faces and as immersing as the play of light on water, it is addictive. I am the thief, the arboreal mistletoe; I take from nature in a gentle way. Stealing that moment of artistic creation gives me my freedom, it stirs and mixes the senses inside me like paint on a palette. Therefore Landscape is too small a word for what inspires my painting, because, it is less about the strict visual observation and much more about my individual exposure to the environment, in which I find myself immersed, and the memories that the exposure elicits.


I attempt to translate the personal, spiritual vision of this distilled essence into a fabric of form and colour. From my belief that each of us perceives and interprets nature in a unique way comes the liberty not to need the approval of others to validate my art. Yet somehow, I yearn to know that others understand the way I experience the world. It is that lust for the harmony of experience that drives my love for art and my compulsion to paint.

Of course there is always a story to tell about each of my canvasses but this tale is ill served by extended prose. Words merely distract from the instinctive perception of the mind and therefore sap the strength of the work. The energy of my work arises not from the vibrancy of colour but from the very instant in time, the now of the moment, I reflect not the harsh single emotions of hate, lust, fear, but more the blended emotions of daily life peppered (veiled) with utopian ideals of romanticism. The natural hues of greys and greens have an intrinsic honest beauty for me, and there is a euphoric feel to bright yellows and blues. Often I find there is beauty enough in a single moment to fill a whole day. Wordsworth wrote about the daffodils as though he had never seen them before. He wrote in the joy of that moment but with a nod to the imprints on the soul of previous experiences. For me it is a similar experience, each instant is a unique thing but somehow it takes its reference from the past and yet gives insight to the future. Everything is transient and yet it is impossible for anything to leave no trace or impression behind it.

My work is that lasting trace of those passing emotions, it is about a lack of fear and a confidence of feeling. It is an acceptance of the now and an acknowledgement of the transient beauty, of our emotional brain.