Debra and I are always on the look out for artists that excite us and we source them in a variety of ways – at degree shows, open studios, exhibitions and recommendations from artists we know and work with. I first came across the work of Helen Ballardie when I attended the Private View of the Dulwich Picture Gallery Open 2014 with Cavaliero Finn artist Gill Rocca whose work was selected for the show.
I feel extremely fortunate to live a ten minute walk away from the Dulwich Picture Gallery and often pop in to admire the Rembrandts, Poussins, Tiepolos and other gems from the Gallery’s permanent collection. I remember many of the groundbreaking shows too, Howard Hodgkin in 2001 where the work was hung alongside works from the permanent collection with the walls painted to match. A highlight for me was when Cy Twombly’s paintings were paired with Classical painter Nicolas Poussin and I will never forget Whistler and the Thames in 2013, a thrilling one off opportunity to see his iconic Nocturnes together in one room.
At the Dulwich Open Preview, I was drawn to a small framed painting in the first room by Helen Ballardie, a little oil and mixed media work entitled Blind Man’s Buff. As we were admiring Helen’s unique use of colour composition and paint, the prize winning Open artist was being announced. All the artists and guests were listening to the announcement so there was a wonderful brief moment when I had the room to myself to admire the work. I wasn’t surprised when they announced the winner….‘Helen Ballardie’
Since then, Debra and I have met with Helen on a number of occasions and we have been hugely impressed with her work. We have selected a wonderful body of work for our portfolio and which can be seen at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea this October.