Helen Thomas: Dandelions and Double Yellows and...

Helen Thomas’ 'Dandelions & Double Yellows’ project asks whether we can reconsider plants in the urban environment that are often dismissed as weeds.

Since autumn 2020 Helen has painted and sketched urban wild plants in corners of car parks, by path edges and on sites awaiting development in Wakefield. The exhibition at Wakefield Cathedral from 10th July to 15th August 2021 featured paintings made from direct observation outdoors and paintings made in the studio from memory and reference. The exhibition was part of Wakefield Council’s Festival of the Earth.

Artwalk Wakefield commissioned ‘Dandelions and Double Yellows and…’ to offer a glimpse behind the scenes of Helen’s working process. The publication features a specially commissioned text by Dr Judith Tucker, and is illustrated with Helen’s paintings and photographs of some of the plants and places that have informed her recent work. You can pick up your free publication from The Art House. 

The wider Dandelions and Double Yellows project was supported using public funding by Arts Council England and was part funded as part of Festival of the Earth, led by Wakefield Council from July to October 2021 across the Wakefield district.

About Helen Thomas

"Helen Thomas takes the concept of working directly from nature; the tension between observing, documenting or recording moments of seeing and study, and the idea of a spontaneous, on the spot impression or interpretation of the subject, and sets this up against the practice of studio work and memory – utilising these first iterations of the subject.

Thomas travels between the two approaches and seems to enjoy the harmony and the disharmony that might arise between the two work spaces – perhaps they are unreconcilable but that is what makes the process interesting – and paradoxical.

On the one hand there is a reference in the making to a long term pursuit of botanical classification of unwanted or overlooked plants and their (urban) habitats, and on the other, a sense of being in the place and the (human) relationship with what is immediately physical – a nearness, a closeness – the intimacy of a small encounter.” - Katrina Blannin

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