'Breathing Compassion' Oil on Canvas by Helen Alice Johnson

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Web ID: HJ_BC - 93

Oil on canvas

150cm x 150cm


This oil painting is of the view on the way up to Hartside Hill, from Alston. It was painted in winter, where the snow on Alston Moor can remain for months on end, especially on Cross Fell, the Fell in the far distance of the painting. The painting takes its title from the Islamic pattern - The Breath of the Compassionate, that is visible within the middle section of the painting. This is to remind us of the spirituality of a landscape such as this and to try to portray the divine through symmetry.

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Artist Spotlight | Helen Alice Johnson

From the Artist:

Living and working in Alston, an area of outstanding natural beauty in Cumbria, I am influenced by the beauty and majesty of the landscape that surrounds me. My work aims to explore the relationship between people and nature and how we can work together in harmony to make the world a better place!

I make my work from a combination of first-hand observational drawings and paintings in the open air, backed up by photos as aide memoirs back in the studio, as well as imagination to produce a final piece on canvas using mixed media, including oil paint, non-recyclable plastics either collaged or ‘soldered’ onto the canvas, gold leaf, pastels as well as more natural materials found in nature such as peat, elderberry juice, beetroot.

I want people to enjoy my images and to perhaps re look at their own environment through a more vibrant lens, but then on closer inspection to discover the different materials on the canvas and ask questions as to why I have used them on my work; why it is there. There is invariably a reference to people in my work, whether it be a stone wall, a hint of a steeple or building, or an empty seat.

I am currently working on a garden series for 2022. Each week I visit a garden either in the UK or Northern France and seek inspiration for my paintings.

I was Artist in Residence at Rydal Mount and Gardens, Cumbria from 2019 to 2020. Working in what was William Wordsworth's home and gardens was a real privilege and his interest in and passion for the environment is hopefully reflected in my work. I continue to visit regularly and the residency helped to inspire my recent garden series.

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