Tyga Helme


In the Wings


31 May – 30 June 2023


“Recently I have been drawing the wild and exquisite world of undergrowth, of brambles and nettles and a million plants I daily forget the names of. I like getting to know these forgotten, overlooked corners, and returning to the same spot day after day, drawing or painting directly from life. In focussing intensely on one subject over a few days or weeks your experience of it becomes more vivid. Colours become brighter, shapes stranger and you become more attune to subtle changes in what you are seeing. This experience transfers onto everything else and looking becomes wildly exciting.

I have no plan when I start but allow the tangled growth to dictate what direction I go in and the scale the painting reaches. I don’t want to think too much about or impose a composition from the outset. As the bramble creeps its way across the floor, I feel my way across the page. When it’s going well, I feel more like a passenger being taken for a ride, led along snaking stems and around entwining foliage.  This way of working means I often add pieces of paper or linen to allow the work to grow with my wandering attention. I want the work to feel constantly in a state of growing and forming.

There is an urgency in working from life and working on smaller panels at a time makes the process of looking even more intense. You are forced right into the present moment, with each mark and colour responding to the exact feeling in that moment. You might respond to the dramatic changes in light and weather, but even the plants move around a lot in a day which is wonderfully exciting to draw and if a piece of work takes a few weeks then there are the slower changes in growth and decay. I like this combination of responding to fleeting impressions but also how there is also a slower build-up of perspectives by working on one piece over a long period of time.

Drawing and painting connect me closer than anything else to nature. After a few weeks these places become so familiar that they almost become a part of me. I begin to see them when I close my eyes and I once even had a dream that I was myself a bramble.  However, the process also underlines how wrong my assumptions can be, how little I know and understand. I expect to find one thing but when I look there is always something else, always something more surprising. My eyes are kept open, searching and any ideas of how nature might be working or what things look like are quickly dispelled. I hope to take the viewer on this explorative journey with me and that in looking and seeing more, we might love more and in loving we might care more.

And more recently I had some thoughts about plant life….. about the space that plant life and growth gives for contemplating the constant flux of living, of calm then chaos, of awkwardness then ease, of understanding then complete incomprehension. Painting feels slippery and alive, I can feel out of control in the process of looking and painting, finding happy accidents and surprises. There might be a catalyst to start the painting but then I am trying to put myself in a position to lose myself and for it to come to me.”


Tyga Helme