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Wish you were here, Singapore

I really admire people who have a passion, 

follow their dreams, and 

push themselves outside their comfort zone. 

Take Helen Bronte Boyd. We first met when our kids were at the Australian International School, Hong Kong. Mum of three lively boys and fellow Bookclub lover, she has just had her opening night as Artist in Residence at Instinc Art Space, Singapore. 

I daren't really try to compare notes. Whilst I have been flitting around the world, enjoying a myriad of countries and time zones, Helen has been solidly exploring her artist passions. She is now firmly out there as a creative entrepreneur with a flourishing Hong Kong art business.  

I have reconnected with Helen recently as fellow Instagram lover through her HeART project, you can read the post here. 

Fast forward ten years from my Hong Kong days, I caught up with Helen for a cuppa, to ask how the Dickens did you end up here in Singapore as an International Artist in Residence, just about to open your own exhibition?!

The answer was all about personal growth as an artist, seeking the creative time and space that the artist in residency programs around the world offer for inspiration, immersion, and opportunity to paint. I seriously take my hat off to her. It takes guts to do this

The next day we are on the way to the exhibition and I'm giving Mr Wren the background to the Exhibition. Helen's only been here three weeks, the first week was more about exploring Singapore and seeking inspiration. The work has been created in about ten days, but she lives in the Artist-run studio and gallery, there are bedrooms upstairs, and so could paint at 2 am should the inspiration take her. Then she has had a few days to arrange the exhibit and clean up, mop the floors etc and welcome us!

Wow - we both said. That's impressive!

Not half as wow and when we walked in. I did love the Instinct Art Space, it's small, black metallic edgy, shiny and with a mezzanine floor. The first thing you notice is how vibrant Helen's works are. Now excuse me, as I'm not an art critic, but these are what I'd call bloody brilliant. 

Helen tells us she painted direct on canvas on the metal grid wall, which provides the structured background to her work. So of course, my first Mumsy question is "so, did you get any drips on the floor?" We have a laugh, as last time I met her Helen was just off to mop the floor! 

Now a fascinating thing about this was yes, she did get drips on the highly polished floor, but by day two, she had a drip paper on the floor, which she turned into another painting. Here’s my 'artsy' shot of the blue painting reflected on the floor!

Moving further to the back of the room, we hear the first "sold" voice. Helen had told me yesterday, success to her was completing her first Artist in Residency, having a solo exhibition (not everyone chooses to do this), welcome a few people who turn up to view, and maybe getting a sale. She's nailed it.

Quick, I say to my husband they're selling like hotcakes! We're by this stage, halfway through our glass of rose still admiring the intricacies of the entrance paintings. There is another painting based on water lilies the colourful background overlaid with black lotus pods, it is the design used on the exhibition poster and hard to tear ourselves away from. 

The work further into the exhibition are a series of smaller works. There are several groups of brightly coloured postcards which she has added some historic postage stamps. It's clever use of mixed media.

Helen explains these postcards have been created as a whole with masking tape between the nine individual cards. She loved the sense of arrival when the masking tape was removed and she could finally see the individual creations.

Another series which catches my eye is the luggage labels. These were created during her wanderings. She has rubbed the pencil designs from images she's found during her week one explorations. 

I'm interested in her inspiration, it must be really daunting pacing the streets of Singapore, the clock ticking down to an exhibition. With nothing but paints and your papers in the bag with some ideas, and a sense of adventure in your head!

Shih Yun, the Director of Instinc Art Space asked her on her arrival, was she going to do something totally new, or base her work on her previous work?

I love the 'Wish you were here' travel theme, the luggage labels, the postcards from Singapore, I can see classic vibrant Helen with added energy. It was a hard choice we were tempted by the postcards but in the end we choose this work.

It's called Little India and I loved the face and the henna hand, here is Helen pointing out the details and how she has added the tattoo - she's smart like that! Love the flower too and we will have fun with these adding a little splash of colour to our Bangkok home!

I’m also really interested in the putting yourself out there part, in some respects I constantly lived outside my own comfort zone. Contrary to what might be thought, much as I like to travel and explore, there has been something soothing in being back in the familiar, but I'm impressed when I see others getting out there - in more ways than one!

You can find out more about Helen's work Here

Linking with thanks to WATW And Our World Tuesday


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