Even in times of recession, British art is in good shape and despite what its detractors may say, London is still one of the most sparkling centres of contemporary art in the world. It goes without saying, a good part of this success is due to the many prestigious galleries spreading around the city; but – let’s face it! – art galleries can be incredibly intimidating places, even if you have been dealing with them for quite a long time.
If you are among those who have ever dreamed of a more informal and intimate place for exhibitions, know that your dream has now come true. Following a trend started in Paris, the independent art advisor and curator Sandra Higgins has recently begun a series of “private receptions” to introduce the work of outstanding artists in the relaxed atmosphere of her exquisite home gallery in the heart of modish Kensington and Chelsea. With a long experience of working with several individual clients, corporations as well as institutions, Sandra undoubtedly knows who to bring under the spotlight: her latest show – Mirror Images, featuring the work of Australian-born British artist Helen O’Keefe – certainly won’t let you down.
With a varied background covering many aspects of applied art and crafts, Helen O’Keefe makes artworks that are a real feast for the eyes. After a long time collaboration with London-based fabric designer Les Lansdowne, Helen moved into painting murals and furniture for residential and restaurant interiors and then into painting miniature furniture for international collectors of dolls house furniture in a delightful 17th and 18th century style.
In more recent years, Helen has begun painting on glass and has been commissioned to paint both "themed" shop windows and also pictures. She has also developed a method of painting onto Plexiglass with attached mirrors which gives a 3D effect; full of light, rich colour and a feeling of exuberance, Helen’s mirror paintings aim to explore the effects of reflections and illusions. The influence of her early years in Australia is unquestionably evident in the use of colour and underlying patterns, evidently reflecting the eye of a fabric designer.
In regard to the use of colour in her work, Helen explains: “Colour is my life. I surround myself with it in my painting and my home. Without it I would feel very sad. I’m greatly influenced by the wonderful colours found in India, in all aspects of life – rich but subtle colours in off-beat combinations are around every corner. Patterns on printed fabrics, embroidery and beading from all corners of the world also fascinate me. In my work, I layer colour, pattern and reflective materials such as metal foils, mirror and glass, to create rich, glowing images”
Mirror Images is a pleasurable wave of colour under the leaden sky of London; surely not to miss.
Helene O’Keefe – Mirror Images will be available to view on appointment until June 13th at 46 Harcourt Terrace, Apt. 3, London SW10 9JR. Tel: + 44 (0) 207 244 7194; Mobile: +44 (0) 7721 741 107.
More information can be found here
All images courtesy of Helen O’Keefe.
Words by Jacopo Nuvolari