Helen Hale ROI
Helen Hale ROI

It is with deep regret and sadness that we learn of the passing of Helen Hale ROI (1936-2024).

Helen Hale standing at an easel with one of her paintings.

Helen Hale ROI

Helen Hale was born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. From 1955 to 1970 Helen combined a career in designing and illustrating books and book jackets with part-time study at St. Martin’s School of Art, London, and the Sir John Cass School of Art. During the 1960’s she was an active member of the Free Painters and Sculptors group, the National Society of Painters, Sculptors and Printmakers, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Society of Women Artists. Whilst living in Hampstead Helen was a prominent member of the Hampstead Artist’s Council and the Women’s International Art Club.

Helen’s biggest influence was the artist Horne Shepherd (1909 – 1993). He was her teacher and companion on painting holidays. They subsequently married and he continued to encourage and inspire her until his death. Helen was also greatly influenced by the style of the current art world of the 50s and 60s which was stylistic and non-representational. In 1970 she enrolled in a sculpture class at the Sir John Cass School of Art run by Michael Leman where he taught her sculpture and 3D design. After her husband died Michael and Helen became partners and he continued helping her create carvings over their 31-year relationship. He did not influence her creatively but taught and assisted her in the craft and techniques involved in sculpture. In her sculpture, Barbara Hepworth was her biggest influence and her abstracted forms fed into her painting.
Helen’s sculptures and paintings were physically demanding. Her paintings were often on a large scale. She instinctively knew how to apply paint and found it difficult to explain her process – although supportive of aspiring artists she was not a natural teacher!

Preferring to paint in oils, Helen enjoyed the immersive experience of applying paint with a palette knife and the resulting characteristic texture of oils. When carving she liked the tactile nature of wood, stone, and marble. Her work was abstract and non-representational, therefore the material she used influenced her sculptures and her painting evolved from shapes and textures. Colour, pattern, shape, texture, and forms influenced her work from childhood. She was a gifted colourist, and her paintings were big, bold, and confident.

Helen was unassuming and modest. Her art practise was personal, and she measured her success by how she liked her painting rather than how it might be received by others. Her motivation to create was born out of a necessity to express her feelings. Sometimes she would return to a picture repeatedly and improve upon it. Helen felt that the most rewarding part of being an artist was the act of self-expression and the feeling of achievement when working through and completing a piece of art. The most frustrating part of being an artist was not achieving what she set out to do, although she acknowledged that sometimes an artwork can evolve and be better than the idea she had in mind.

Helen believed that the most important characteristic for an artist is to have an inner creativity, to find your own voice and to be authentic. Helen had all these characteristics in abundance.

We would like to send our sincere condolences to Helen’s family.