Helen Beard


A Personal Diary,
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MAY.19 — MAY.31 / 22
/ to

/ bergamot, tagete, oil, safrene, davana oil. magnolia flower, suede leather, orange flower concrete, rose absolute, incense oil, musk, sandal, vetiver, cedar virginia, gaiac wood, and tonka /
An Aromatic Transcript By Mark Buxton, Perfumer

THURSDAY, MAY 19, 8 a.m. My studio is on the waterfront and the sea plays such a big part in my life. You really feel like you are part of the elements here, the studio is even designed with tiles like fish gills. The sunsets are incredible and I love sitting on the terrace in the morning, planning what I will do that day. There is a sea defense just a few hundred yards away on the beach that reminds me of bodies piled up. It’s almost like a pile of women on their knees, discarded. It haunts me. I swim in the sea year round in February – it is very cold, around 5 or 6 degrees. Now it is 14˚C, positively tropical!

FRIDAY, MAY 20, 7 a.m. Got up early, determined to see some art before I had to go back to Brighton for a meeting with my solicitor. Called and asked a friend if he would like to come. We met at Tate Modern, I cycled up through Burgess Park, which I love in the mornings but it was trying to rain, so I rode fast. Lubaina Himid’s drawer portraits were my favourites. Beautiful men painted on the bottom of drawers, I wondered what the significance of hiding these men at the bottom of drawers full of knickers and socks was. But secretly I knew, I would be delighted to come across one! Also loved the text on the walls. What Happens Next was the one that felt very poignant as I am at a bit of a crossroads in my life. And excited to see what my future holds!

FRIDAY, MAY 20, 11 p.m. Just arrived in Chicago for a whistle-stop visit. Managed to see some amazing art at the Art Institute Chicago and a brilliant show at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery. Chicago is exciting, one night is not enough! Had fabulous Sushi at Momotaro.

SUNDAY, MAY 22, 12 p.m. New York, New York.

SUNDAY, MAY 22. 9 p.m. I saw Nancy Grossman’s show and Jean- Michel Basquiat’s King Pleasure had just opened in Chelsea. And the amazing Faith Ringgold was at The New Museum on the Lower East Side. I bought Andy Warhol’s book, Love, Sex and Desire and books of French love poems; erotic poems by E.E. Cummings and love poems by Pablo Neruda, Nobel Laureate. Obviously, love is on my mind! My favourite, is a poem by Anna de Noailles. I think it would be perfect to accompany some new work I am making, called Le Petit Mort.

MONDAY, MAY 23, 1 p.m. I also met a collector, and signed a painting that he had bought at Chicago Art Fair a few years ago and I had forgotten to sign. The Butterfly Effect, 2019. So lovely to see the painting again.

TUESDAY, MAY 24, 11 p.m. Could I be more tired?! Could the air con be more noisy? I enjoyed listening to your explanation of what a hotel room should offer – a place of comfort and quiet to sleep. Who could argue with that? The Receptionist could !!! Even though I had tried to argue the point too!

WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 11 a.m. The morning we get back, they have wrapped the pub in shiny black plastic, like PVC. The whole pub dressed as a gimp. And the lilacs are still blooming in Aske Park. It’s the Original London Print Fair tonight. I met my friend Mellany up at 180 House and we have cocktails before going to Somerset House. It’s a lovely surprise that the prints are facing the entrance to Paul Stolper’s room. Such a fun night!

THURSDAY, MAY 26, 9 p.m. Had a day full of meetings. It was great to meet Dovecot Studios and talk about some tapestries I am making and the techniques we can use. Very excited to get this project started. Also went to see some woodcuts at Atelier Ji, as I want to do a woodcut for my next edition. I was so inspired by the Helen Frankenthaler images at the Dulwich Picture Gallery a few weeks ago.

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 1 p.m. It’s so beautiful in Brighton – what a day for the Little Beach House opening party.

SUNDAY, MAY 29. Nice to be back in the studio. Feels like so long since I have sat down and painted. My daughter came with me and we planned her party. She has just turned 18 but is waiting until after her exams to have a big fiesta themed party. We watched Desperately Seeking Susan in the evening, I couldn’t believe she hadn’t seen it. She loved it.

MONDAY, MAY 30, 3 p.m. I am stuck. Really, unable. I have to find something to bring me joy. I try printing blocks of colour on nice Japanese papers with a view to using them for cut outs – it is something I have wanted to experiment with for a long time but my life at the moment is taken up with admin. The process of inking the roller and making these blocks of colour is a small joy in a day of difficulties. A small joy which I needed so very much.

TUESDAY, MAY 31, 9 a.m. Back in the studio, and excited about making new studies. I am preparing for a show in Amsterdam later in the year and currently the colours of the paintings are much darker than usual. Deep Cobalt Violets, Paynes Grey, Azurite Blues and Yellow Ochres with the Jeff Buckley’s song Lilac Wine on repeat in my head.


Helen Beard

Helen Beard