Helen Dearnley Fine Art & Illustration

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Artist Statement

The blackbird is the artist's signature, representing the realm between waking life and The Land Of Motionless Childhood, which is near Pinchbeck. 


Helen's multidisciplinary practice is a heterogeneous conflation of influences as diverse as the comic book world of A-ha, the writings of Jean Baudrillard, Philip K Dick, Jorge Luis Borges, Gaston Bachelard, music, dolls, film, architecture, along with theological and philosophical discourse following from a research specialism into how animation and illustration are used to explore the realm between reality and the imaginary. 


"The imaginary was the alibi of the real, in a world dominated by the reality principle. And, paradoxically, it is the real that has become our true utopia - but a utopia that is no longer in the realm of the possible, that can only be dreamt of as one would dream of a lost object." - Jean Baudrillard.

left: Self portrait with Morten Harket, 2010 

Curriculum Vitae
Helen Dearnley
Lincoln Artists' Network

Current Work

Helen is a striking artist unable to practice without funding / austerity.

Helen is currently seeking new projects and working on proposals for new work, whilst seeking funding to continue Peace Painting workshops and focussing on Illustration commissions.

A practising fine artist and illustrator, with research inspired by the conflation of the real and the imaginary, and a specialism for re-appropriating illustrated and animated music videos. Helen is available for commission. For information on exhibitions, please follow this link.

Freelance Illustrator 2008 –

Commissions for Norwegian author Pål H Christiansen, Mobile News Magazine, publishing, work for professional illustration submissions for exhibition, alongside portfolio work, after school comics workshops, comics and zines, and self-directed graphic novel.

Lincoln Artists’ Network 2009 – 2015

Group director/curator for the LAN, collaborative graduate artists’ group based in Lincoln curating exhibitions and events in site-specific city locations. The LAN was set up with funding and training via Enterprise @ Lincoln 2009-2010 and is ongoing. The LAN had use of Empty Shop space from 2012 to 2013 for a series of exhibitions and events culminating in The Lincoln Simulacrum to coincide with Frequency Festival 2013. In 2015, the LAN was working towards funding to set up as a social enterprise. It was intended to provide residencies and further ongoing projects and exhibitions within new and existing space for the benefit of Lincoln graduates, students, artists and audiences. It didn't get the support or funding required, affected by austerity, so Helen refocussed on the graphic novel Cloudbusting.


BA (hons) Fine Art / Illustration Upper 2:1 University of Lincoln 2008

Research specialism interrogates existential experiences with metaphysical enquiry via science fiction writers and theology, within postmodernist theory in contemporary art, in order to create a discourse between the real and the imaginary. Dissertation entitled THE FICTIONAL AND THE REAL IN CONTEMPORARY ART AND ANIMATION

Member of the Student / Staff Consultative Committee

Relevant Experience

Workshop experience - LAN peer to peer networking workshops at The Collection Museum and Art Gallery, Lincoln, 2015. After schools comics workshops via Arts Duck / Paradigm Arts in local schools.

Curator - Fictions LAN exhibition at gallery at  St. Martin's, 2011, Abandoned At The Exit LAN exhibition, Norman St empty shop, 2012, Mail Art exhibition, 2012, The Lincoln Simulacrum, 2013

Lincoln Artists' Network initiated with funding via Enterprise@Lincoln in 2009 and continues as an unfunded artist-led collaborative group of guest artists, resident artists, curators working in site-specific locations and empty shop projects in the city of Lincoln.

Installation, animation, video, sculpture, drawing,  visiting exhibitions  by relevant artists, events such as The Art Party Conference, a-n and EMVAN events, studio visits and professional development. AIR Paying Artists campaign.

International funded research trips (Oslo, 2010 & 2012) and international travel, including the Venice Biennale 2007, New York 2008.

Residency AA2A Scheme University of Lincoln Oct 2009 – Apr 2010

Developed animation using After Effects for work exhibited in LAN “Alice In Disneyland” Exhibition at Lincoln Central Library in March 2010

Artist Assistant – John Newling

“The Noah Laboratory: Constructing Soil” The Collection, Lincoln. Feb – March 2009

Referenced in artists’ catalogue

Artist Assistant – Magne Furuholmen

“Scrabble” exhibition at Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand, Norway. May-August 2007

Collaboration with an international artist in Norway (and band member of A-ha)

Art Play Scheme volunteer - Jam Factory Summer Kids Club. August 2007

Teaching role, made use of current art practice to teach kids how to make flicker book animations.

Artist Assistant – Tim Bryant

“Fair Play” The Collection Museum and Art Gallery April 2007

Role play, liasing with museum staff and visitors.

Critical Writing

Synapse Festival Review

A-N Interface bursary for Synapse Festival review in Nottingham and Derby.

March to September 2010 

House Of Bling Review

Awarded an a-n Interface bursary to review the House Of Bling exhibition at Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire for September 2009 issue of a-n magazine.

Interview for BBC Look North, 2015

BBC Radio Lincolnshire

Interview for One And Other, Oct 2009

Lincolnshire Echo

Tuesday November 14 2006

Page 3 article covering the artist’s proposal for a replica of Lincoln Cathedral made out

of straw bales.