Journal

The Makers - Helen Beard

This week I’ve been stitching Helen Beard’s portrait. I first met Helen about ten years ago when her studio was in Clerkenwell, I fell in love with her simple beakers, bowls and vases that are decorated with lively drawings of London characters. When I arrived a Helen’s Islington studio last month she was keen to warn me that my navy attire might soon be covered in white dust the occupational hazard of a potter working in porcelain, I wasn't worried, just delighted to be there. When I enquired if she had a favourite tool; without hesitation Helen jumped up to find a nose shaped wooden ‘rib’ that she uses when throwing her pots. 

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All Helens tools are covered in the milky white porcelain that she uses, so the challenge has been to capture that quality in stitch. My work is made from hand cut pieces of silk organza arranged in layers and stitched on to linen, in this piece I've used a combination of white and off-white organza to try and capture those very subtlely coloured surfaces.

Work in progress - Portrait of a Potter

Work in progress - Portrait of a Potter

Detail - Portrait of a Potter

Detail - Portrait of a Potter

This work is part of my project 'The Value of Making' and will be on show at Collect Open 2018. My project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.  Many thanks to Helen for having me. http://www.helenbeard.com

Collect 22-25 February 2018
Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York's HQ
King's Road
London SW3

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Emily MacKillopComment