Helen Gillilan – an artist at Dungeness.
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 here at Dungeness … The sculptural winches, long left behind by the sea shore; a walkway on the beach, seen constructed in the snow, or a pathway determinedly created over the years by a local newsagent and his wife with newspaper and carpet.
A glimpse – fleeting expression. A vase of flowers fresh picked and placed in the sun. A place; a poem; a play – dawns, dusks and sunsets…layers, shadows…visions & undercurrents.
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 between these two periods of education, Helen satisfied a passion for vintage clothes at her Plymouth junk shop (Sunshine Antiques). Moving on to California, where she did a stint as a shoeshine girl at San Diego Airport and a La Jolla Car Wash.
She returned to the UK in 1984 with the intention to resume her art education, and instead entered an extended period in sales – travelling to the USA once again and finally returning home and work with a British furnishing fabric company.
After years of travelling for work, the desire to make and paint led her to move to a studio in Symondsbury, Dorset. When recession hit in 1990, she finally worked for a wonderful five year period at her “Oakhayes” 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 1996 she met the artist Paddy Hamilton and after working in 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. In April 2017 Helen opened her own studio at Dungeness – Ocean View Studio Gallery.
Helen explores the sublime beauty of Dungeness through her paintings; describing the changes that the extreme weather and resulting light evokes both aesthetically and thematically.
She says, ” Each piece of work is a many layered journey, both regarding how the image develops and where the materials will lead. It’s a partnership between the materials and myself.
” I welcome visitors to my Ocean View Gallery at Dungeness – all work on show is available to own.”
*The poet, Pamela Gillilan
A Dungeness artist
Helen Gillilan’s Ocean View Studio Gallery opened to visitors in April 2017.
During the summer months, the gallery is normally open every day but has been closed in 2020 until July 23, when it is open with a new show – mostly created during Lockdown “Unicorn on the beach’ – Visitors are requested to wear a mask and to use the hand sanitiser provided before looking through the browser…gloves are also available.
New opening times are at weekends by immediate appointment – please call 07970 148 476 Monday – Friday from 10am – 5pm .
Always as the weather allows.
The gallery will be closed if the weather is really awful or the wind reaches 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.
Ocean View Studio Gallery on Instagram