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Contest 2 - Winner's Interview - Helen Jenkinson-Drew

Please introduce yourself as an artist?

My journey into environmental art began during my childhood in the picturesque countryside of England, where I developed a deep love for nature.

I studied textile design and later graphic design in the UK with a BA in Art and Design. I moved to the USA where I turned to fine art and had several exhibitions. I returned to Europe and worked in Zürich for 25 years as a graphic designer eventually starting my own business. I now live in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland and since retirement I paint full time, give art classes and make YouTube videos.  I am a member of several local art groups including the SSA (Société Suisse d'Aquarelle).

What is your medium and why did you choose it?

I use acrylics, they have a hard edge, so not as easy to blend as oils but they dry much faster and I tend to be a fast painter. That said, I do a lot of preparatory work before starting, imagining, sketching and even working on photoshop. Then I paint fast usually on a canvas.

I use a wide variety of brush shapes and sizes, palette knives and different tools to apply the paint, plastic wrap and even fingers.

I think of my work as semi-realistic, that is; a section where the subject is obvious and a part that is almost abstract which is usually the background.

Composition is for me very important and the painting should show a centre of interest often employing counterchange. 

I also use watercolour, a completely different technique!

What was the inspiration behind this work?

Driven by a sense of urgency and responsibility and shocked by visiting places where there was waste strewed around in the countryside and ocean. I embarked on a mission to capture the stark contrast between the natural world's beauty and the blight of plastic pollution. I often depict serene landscapes—forests, oceans, and rivers which are interrupted, sometimes quite subtly, by the jarring elements of plastic waste. Through this juxtaposition, I am trying to provoke an emotional response, compelling viewers to confront the reality of environmental degradation. I’m not very optimistic.

Who is your favorite artist? Why?

My favourite artist is Cézanne

He had a profound respect for nature, which I think shows in his landscapes and still lifes. He aimed to capture the essence of natural forms, going further than representation to show their underlying structure.

He also paid great attention to the overall composition of his paintings, the way he organised elements on the canvas, ensuring balance and harmony in his works.

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