Ocean View Studio Dungeness Kent

Helen Gillilan – Artist’s Statement

I enjoy realising a piece of prose and burrowing beneath the surface. I’m interested in the effects that the work and the care of people and past events have on the landscape.. The sculptural winches, long left behind by the sea shore; a walkway on the beach, seen constructed in the snow, or a pathway regularly walked,  determinedly put created over the years, by a local newsagent and his wife with newspaper and carpet.

…The story. A fleeting expression, a glimpse – a vase of flowers,  fresh picked and placed in the sun; backstage at the theatre or a place; a poem; a play – dawns, dusks and sunsets…layers, shadows – undercurrents.




Helen Gillilan Dungeness Artist

Helen Gillilan was born in Cornwall and attended Plymouth Art College Foundation Course in the 1970’s. In the mid-nineties she continued her art education when she studied Theatre Design at Rose Bruford School of Speech and Drama in London.

In the gap between these two periods of education, Helen had satisfied a passion for vintage clothes at her Plymouth junk shop (Sunshine Antiques). Moving on to do a stint as a shoeshine girl at San Diego Airport and at a La Jolla Car Wash in California.

She returned to the UK in 1984 with the intention to resume her art education, but instead entered an extended period in sales – travelling to the USA once again and finally working as a rep for a British furnishing fabric company.

After three years of travelling for work, the desire to make and paint led her to move to a live-work studio in Symondsbury, Dorset. When recession hit in 1990, she finally worked for a wonderful five year period at her studio full-time.

In 1991 she hosted her first solo show at Bridport Art Centre, followed by inclusion in several group shows at SW galleries. In 1993 she travelled to Chile with a Raleigh International Expedition as Field Artist – on her return she produced a body of work  – with a solo show at the Collaton Gallery. Helen moved to  London to study  theatre design in 1995 – continuing to sell and exhibit through her college years at Spitalfields Art Market and with another solo show at Greenwich Theatre.

In London, she met Paddy Hamilton and after a working collaboration at his Vauxhall studio, the pair moved to Dungeness and established Dungeness Open Studios.

After Helen’s mother’s* death in 2001, she purchased Ocean View at Dungeness. Helen’s art practice has taken a backseat over the last 10 years while she worked full-time for a Kent travel company, first in sales, then as an SEO content writer, then as PR manager. 

In April 2017 Helen opened her own studio at Dungeness – Ocean View Studio.

Helen says about her work: “Each piece of work is a many layered journey, both regarding how the image develops and where the materials will lead me. I have no pre-conceived ideas about form – it’s a partnership between the materials and myself.

“My grandfather, Bill Johnson was a painter and I recognise that he worked in a similar way to myself – taking the risks, making sweeping changes and letting the painting happen.

“I mention my grandfather as he was the first to encourage my art.

“I hope that you enjoy my paintings.  I welcome visitors to Ocean View – all work on show is available to purchase either on the website or when you visit.”

*The poet, Pamela Gillilan

Art at Dungeness

Gone to Earth

Helen Gillilan’s Ocean View Studio opened to visitors in April 2017.

During the summer months, Ocean View is open  on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 6pm.

And on Monday Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3pm – 6pm.

The Studio may be closed if the weather is really awful or the wind is over 50 mph!


If you would like to make an appointment to visit – or to make sure the studio is open when you are visiting Dungeness, please call 01797 320 242.


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