An interview with Helen Kennedy, artist.

Marking our second artist-in-residence collaboration we welcome the stunning collection of works titled, 'Tracing Light' by Helen Kennedy into our Gertrude Street store. Complimenting our AW24 collection perfectly Megan's serendipitous first meeting with Helen led to this wonderful collaboration of art and fashion. 

Art, like fashion, can act as a method of recording time, imbued with the memories and processes surrounding it. These forms reflect and support the lives we live. The work of Melbourne artist, Helen Kennedy does just that. Her dream-like oil paintings and cyanotypes are a eflection on the passage of time and light, highlighting these transitory moments, she extends an invitation to muse over fleeting fragments of time in today's fast moving world. 

We invite you to take moment to pause with us as we sit down with Helen to discuss
her creative process, the value of detached contemplation in our digital age and how we can cultivate ways to slow down time in our daily lives.

1.  Can you walk us through your creative process and your approach to image making?

My interests have always been in exploring the natural world and the atmospheric qualities of nature – I’m not so interested in formally representing nature but rather in representing my interpretation of it and how I experience it.

I have reference images in the studio, so I am constantly photographing nature, often when the sun is low or shrouded in fog or mist, or during the transitional time between night and day or day and night.

My work is concerned with how light influences our perception of form and colour, and I tend to work both, in the figurative and in the abstract - or in the space between the two. 

My creative process changes when working with the directness of the cyanotype process. I am interested in cyanotype for its ability to physically record the natural world by transferring the sun’s light directly onto the surface. In this way, nature itself is, in part, the image maker, rather than it just being the artist making an image of nature.

2. Where and when do you find yourself most inspired? What has influenced your art practice and form of expression?

I feel most inspired when I have come up with new ideas and begin new work, this is the moment when the work is
most open to possibilities. My artworks are constantly evolving -  my practice is very much about experimentation, taking risks and making mistakes are all part of the process.  This part of the creative process can be extremely frustrating - but the beginning of a work or the genesis of the idea, always
holds hope.

A lot of things have influenced my art practice.

The experience of spending time at the NGV where I could wander in and out looking at the collection anytime of the day was a great luxury. I vividly remember the first time I saw the works of Francis Bacon and Rembrandt. And my first visit to the NGV Print Room while studying printmaking at art school, wearing white gloves, viewing close-up unframed etchings of Rembrandt and Whistler.  

My travels, residencies and years in France and Germany involved viewing works by many artists that were and continue to be a great education and resource for my life in the studio.   

The works of Caspar David Friedrich which I had loved and been influenced by for a long time, had a profound effect when I saw them in the flesh in Berlin. They were so much smaller than how I imagined them, so powerful but simple in their composition and, although painted over a century prior, they felt like the precursor to the Abstract Expressionists, especially Rothko. The embodied values of these works still resonate with me in the studio.

3. Your work plays with the themeof perception and prolonging the ephemeral. How do you see your artwork fitting into today's fast-paced, digital landscape?  

I would like my audience to recognise the value of dwelling on a feeling in nature and time that sustains the viewer for considerably longer than the temporary digital landscape.   

Our imagination and our ideas are constantly challenged and continuously interrupted by our overstimulating society and a constant saturation of imagery. My work attempts to encourage the viewer to take the time to stop and contemplate the image. 

4. In what ways are you able to slow down time in your daily life?

When I’m in the act of making process in the studio or immersed in the creative and detached from the outside world, it feels like time slows down - or that I become much less aware of time passing. Walking my dog, listening to podcasts and attempting to understand the theories of people such as Brian Cox or Carlo Ravelli and their debates about existence
and unanswerable questions. Time slows down while being immersed in their thought-provoking discussions about light, time and space and the new imagery being sent back to earth of a black hole.

5. Just as your artwork is a modality of recording time - Fashion has an anthropological effect, mirroring societal and historical needs and desires. How do you find fashion plays a role in your life?

In a way, fashion is evocative of time and place just as artwork can be.

I have hung onto many of my favorite pieces over the years as they so often remind me of a particular time in my life. 

I spend a lot of my time in work boots and clothes covered in paint or in a painting coat so when I am out of the studio, I do like to dress up. I often like to pull out one of my favorite
pieces as it can evoke memories of time, place and people missed.

For all 'Tracing Light' artwork inquiries please contact Helen Kennedy by email: or by direct message on instagram: @helenkennedy_art