What is generally the audience’s reaction to your work and why do you think they feel attracted/intimidated/pulled away from what you represent?
The reaction to my work is incredibly positive. Sex is a basic human instinct and universally important. What women have to say about sex and their perspective on it is often under-represented, particularly as a positive experience. So I want to represent female desire in a joyous way and celebrate it.
To this extent, what are the messages you are trying to convey and the audience you are aiming to?
I hope to speak to everyone about body positivity and not being ashamed to engage in a discourse on all sexuality, but particularly female sexuality and desire.
Is there enough consciousness of the power of the female body in your opinion?
The power of the female body has been ignored for a long time, our patriarchal society has a problem acknowledging the life-giving force of every woman, and as a result, it has paid no heed to the desires of women, actively repressing us as sexual beings.
I mean, are women fully aware of what they can achieve by themselves?
I think that the under-representation of women artists in museums and institutions is slowly changing and women are championing women, so I hope that young women will see more and more that it is possible to work and be successful in art.
Your palettes always display stark contrasts. Is there a specific reason?
I want to try and portray the feelings and the frisson between bodies, the difficult colour combinations are an attempt to represent sexual tension. To describe the emotions in pure, raw colour.
If you were to choose only one artwork out of your artistic production, which one would you choose and why?
That’s hard, there are a few that I have found it very difficult to let go of! But I think it would have to be the very large diptych that I have just made for an Australian client. If They Be Two, They Are Two So. It is over 5m wide and 3m high and I had to move studio to paint it. The sheer feat of working on that scale is thrilling. (I am scared of heights, so I had to overcome some fears to make these very large works) but I am really pleased with the impact of the work and think the scale adds something powerful to the small electric moment just before lips meet that it depicts.
What is your main source of inspiration?
Human connection and relationships, intimacy and desire.
Do you have a credo? A mantra you live by?
Always say yes to an opportunity, you never know where it will lead.
How rooted are the places where you have lived in your oeuvre? What is your favorite artistic hub?
I have always loved the ICA, because of their unapologetic programming, showing exhibitions like Cosey Fanni Tutti’s prostitution in 1976, opening a discourse on sex and challenging the moral and aesthetic values of British society.
How much personal narrative is embedded in your works?
Now that would be telling!
All images with courtesy of Helen Beard https://www.helenbeard.art/