Helena Grimes

Award winning artist and illustrator who has been inspired by children's fables

John Rainsford

Reporter:

John Rainsford

Helena Grimes

Helena Grimes

Originally from Longford I have been living in Limerick for over five years.

Indeed, my experience with the city has been a very positive one. I have met a lot of wonderful and inspiring people here and have been lucky enough to have had some great opportunities come my way. It’s my home away from home. Initially, I went to St Patrick’s National School and Moyne Community School, in Longford, and then moved to study Fine Art in Printmaking, at Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD), graduating with a BA Honours Degree in 2014.

What I love most about being an artist is that you are essentially creating something that was not there before.

The idea that you can connect with, or inspire something, in someone consciously or subconsciously, even for a moment, is rewarding. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I told my parents I would be a vet until I realized that I could be creative for a living. Thankfully, they were very supportive of my decision to go to Art College, and they have been continuously supportive of all that I have managed to achieve, thus far. Making a living as an artist is not easy in Ireland. You can’t go into it lightly and you need to have a strong drive and passion. I certainly don’t limit my practice. I am currently working in illustration, interiors, design, and of course, my own personal practice. Such creative lines can be blurred, but also, feed off one other. What you might learn in one area can strengthen another. So, it’s important for me to always feel that I am learning.

Drawing is what I am most passionate about.

It is my personal language and outlet for expression. No matter what I am making I am, also, illustrating in some shape or form. It might be a concept, a story, a moral or something humorous. The non-human form is a subject that I am deeply involved with, using it as an agency to understand human society and the inner self. When I was smaller, I remember always stealing my dad’s pens and drawing on any blank pages in my sibling’s copybooks, envelopes and even encyclopaedias. To my mind I was creating ‘stories’ and putting them down on a page.

The inspiration for much of my art comes from books, myths, nature and life itself.

I like to think of my imagery as a juxtaposition of my inner most thoughts, and fragments of my imagination. My subconscious is deeply embedded in my work and I tend to get lost in it. I spend a huge amount of time figuring out what I want my work to convey. Often after completion, I realise that I was saying something different all along. The act of drawing can be a way of problem solving, and uncovering truths, as your mind slips into a deeper state. It is amazing that something so subtle can inspire a hugely complicated piece.

In particular, I am drawn to animals that appear in fairytales as they have a strong symbolic value as subject matter.

The animals act as a vehicle to communicate my concepts, and thoughts and to interpret my world. The drawings have a fable-like quality to them where the work illustrates people and feelings yet the human form is rarely seen. The animal is pure and innocent; less threatening, and is also more universal. My most recent work explores the idea of the forest as a symbol of the mind, journeys and difficult times.

‘Every Soul Has A Dark Forest’ is an accordion style artist book with detailed drawings depicting a scene and moments in a shady forest.

The drawings were made with a fine tip archival ink pen. I created an edition of ten which I put together by hand. The book took months to create and was purchased by The University of Limerick (UL) after it was on show at the Bourn Vincent Gallery as part of the exhibition Hyphae. It was such an honour to become part of the University’s art collection. It has, also, exhibited in the former Belltable, and just very recently in ABLE at LSAD, where I, also, won an award as part of that exhibition. I hope to exhibit the book further afield this year, as it has gained a high level of interest that I didn’t originally anticipate.

Currently, I am busy coming-up with new ideas and creating new artwork for a solo show in the near future.

This is something that I haven’t done properly yet. So, I want to surprise people, but also to surprise and challenge myself. I love sharing my work with others, as I find it extremely satisfying. While the art of drawing is for me, the finished piece is for the audience. I become sort of detached from my drawings once they are complete but I long for others to have their own opinions and personal interactions with the visual stories that I create.

Intense memories can emerge from older work.

You often remember how you felt, and what you were going through, at that particular moment in your life. I will no doubt continue to log my thoughts in my drawings as long as the ink keeps flowing. Limerick has always seemed to have something exciting, bubbling beneath the surface, and its potential as a centre for art is very real. Our city has a wonderful character and edge to it. This has a lot to do with its vibrant creative community. The people of Limerick want to see it succeed and grow and that’s what will win at the end of the day. I can’t wait to see what the scene looks like come 2020!

For more information about the artist Helena Grimes please see: www.helenagrimes.com