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Helen Lovelee’s life lessons: An art exhibition about sustainability

Resourcefulness and respect for nature is the topic of the beautiful and lovingly crafted drawings in Helen Lovelee’s first solo exhibition, ‘Open your eyes, look around you and watch out’.

Written by Jessica Furseth

Helen Lovelee’s art is a powerful mix of bold and subtle at the same time; on the one hand you have strong ideas and thick lines, visit web whereas on the other the work is rich with tiny, illness intricate detail. You tilt your head as you follow the dots, remedy which join to make the curve of the frog or the owl – the patterns of nature is a key theme in Helen Lovelee’s work.

In the flesh, Helen seems quite shy, like she’s not quite sure why all these people are here. But they were there for her, as her first solo show, ‘Open your eyes, look around you and watch out’, opened last Thursday night in Green Lens Studios in Haringey, North London.

‘When shelter is required construct a frame by interlocking sticks, then overlay it with palm fronds to block out rain and mosquitoes. Close off entrance with small bushes.’

The title of the show is the translation of a concept put much more succinctly in the Aboriginal language: ‘wollemi’. Australian-born Helen has put her country’s indigenous culture at the heart of her exhibition. ‘When I looked into the issues, it seemed the indigenous people of Australia were always portrayed in such a negative way, either because someone had committed a crime, or a crime was committed against them,’ says Helen. ‘As an illustrator I see the indigenous culture as being so rich and unique. I am also interested in conservation, and they lived so resourcefully with respect for the environment.’

In an effort to communicate the native Australian philosophy of inventiveness and respect for the natural way, Helen chose five basic human needs to illustrate: heat, shelter, water, food and communication. The result is five drawings: a fox, flower, frog, lotus and a message stick. Underneath each image is a block of text with simple instructions.

‘It is a gesture of simple living, or using less and being resourceful,’ says Helen. She created the images by first drawing in felt tip, before scanning them into the computer and rendering them in Photoshop. The series was produced as her final work at Central Saint Martins. It is also fitting that the exhibition takes place at Green Lens Studios, which is the UK’s first sustainable photographic studio built from 70% reclaimed materials. The space recycles all waste, offsets carbon emissions through tree planting and there are plans to install solar panels to take it off the grid – right in line with the Wollemi spirit.

‘For a cool drink dig into the dry earth with a long stick until you locate the position of a bloated frog. Hold the frog to your mouth and apply a slight pressure with your hands to release the water it is holding. Free the frog unharmed.’

Helen Lovelee photographed by Lachlan Pettit

Open your eyes, look around you and watch out’ runs until 31st March at Green Lens Studios in Haringey: 4a Atterbury Road, London N4 1FS. For more information see our listing.


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  1. [...]… This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← ‘Crafting Awareness’ workshop at Green Lens Studios – a Climate Week event The best reason to make art : ) → [...]

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