Helen Ashley is an illustrator in paint and porcelain.
She originally trained in the UK as a textile designer, and has designed everything from the Olympic swimsuit right through to Best and Less undies, working for many big names along the way in fashion and interiors including the like of Collette Dinnigan and Sheridan. Things changed when the majority of her industry computerised, taking the fun out of designing for her. Helen reinvented herself and now works entirely by hand, painting and sculpting and using her original artisan skills to create a range of quirky ceramics and homewares.
Her painted illustrations are licensed out to Australian homewares companies but her real passion is working in locally made fine porcelain, liking this smooth but often temperamental medium as the nearest clay to paper which she then loves to illustrate and decorate.
Helen’s studio is in St. Peters, Sydney and is called The Art Room located in the old Taubman’s paint factory, now called Precinct 75. Helen and her husband have converted 500m2 into 17 fantastic creative spaces that she shares with 25 other creatives and manages. Helen’s own space is home to her studio and shop but also a large workshop area she is teaches ceramics and fires her creations in her kiln, aka Bertha.
Helen only works by hand. Hand paints, Hand sculpts and hand moulds. She doesn’t use a wheel but prefers to hand sculpt her work so each piece is unique and very much one of a kind. Helen is inspired by her daily dog walks , collecting treasure and photographing her natural surroundings . She pushes found objects like feathers and shells into clay and creates artworks with them.
Helen is probably best known for her fun fruit shaped ceramics , turning each piece into useful art or tableware. A pineapple toothbrush holder , a watermelon fruit bowl or a Bunya Nut vase….. Her pet portrait spoons are very popular , each one crafted with love and is one of a kind. Helen does about 5 portraits a week and they are then delivered all over the world.
To find out more about Helen’s work you can contact her via her website but best bet is to find her at one of the Artisan markets in Sydney she does, usually laughing too loudly with a customer and their dog.