Helen Tarr grew up on a South Gloucestershire farm, where her early love of drawing and painting was inspired by the farm buildings and Cotswolds landscape. Following Foundation studies in Art and Design at Gloucester College of Arts and Technology in Cheltenham, Helen moved to Stoke-on-Trent to study for a BA in Fine Art at North Staffordshire Polytechnic, under the guidance of Terry Shave, Stephen Boyd, Enos Lovatt and George Mallalieu. Building on interests developed in the life studio, her primary themes became the human figure and self-portraiture.
After settling in Birmingham in the early 1990s, Helen undertook qualifications in adult education and began work as an artist/tutor, and became increasingly interested in painting the streets and buildings of Birmingham.
In 2005, Helen completed an MA in Fine Art at the University of Central England in Birmingham, and went on to gain wider recognition for her urban landscape paintings, having them selected for exhibitions including the prestigious Birmingham Open at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2007 and the RBSA’s Birmingham Today in 2014. Shortly after her return to Staffordshire in 2015, Helen was invited by Barewall Gallery to create new work inspired by her former home in Stoke on Trent. Revisiting old haunts, and discovering unfamiliar corners of the six towns stirred feelings of both nostalgia and optimism for the city. The buildings, towns and waterways of the Potteries inspired a series of paintings, which she intends to continue in 2021.
The advent of the Spring lockdown in 2020 was a watershed in Helen’s work, as she turned closer to home for inspiration. The cultivated and wildflowers from her cottage garden provided a wealth of subject matter when combined with the collection of vintage ceramics that she and her husband had accumulated over the years. Not surprisingly much of this collection was made in Stoke, and provides a new angle from which to celebrate the creative culture of the Potteries.
Helen’s paintings are in collections in the UK and overseas. A recent floral still-life was featured in The Artist magazine and she was commissioned to produce a demonstration article for the magazine which will be published next year. Other paintings were selected for the 2020 Open and Friends exhibitions at the RBSA gallery in Birmingham, as well as the current Prize exhibition that continued until January 16th 2021 .
Barewall are delighted to be working with Helen Tarr painting directly and indirectly connections to the Potteries and beyond.