About the artist

Helen Arthur

My family recently told me an anecdote: I have no memory of this, but when I was 11 years old I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up; I replied that I wanted to be a “local artist”. What a little oddball I was… I actually went to Cambridge Uni to study literature and forgot all about art. I took on a “serious” career as a copywriter and digital strategist, and ran my own digital consultancy business for 15 years.

My first print reduction print.
First ever reduction print edition.

I started out with printmaking. The trigger was an abandoned etching press, rusting in a garage. For two years, I nagged a relative to pass this on and finally got my wish. My dear stepdad, Jim, restored it in his workshop.

So, I had no choice but to master printmaking. Could I even draw and design after a gap of nearly 30 years? No pressure then…

I was lucky to count a printmaker already among my friends. Lee Wright and I had kids at the same primary school. I joined one of Lee’s workshops and had around 10 hours of lessons. This really got me going. Lee has been an inspirational teacher and I still count on him as a mentor as well as an awesome friend.

But I also challenged myself and worked hard. I attended life-drawing sessions for a year to improve my observation, patience and hand-to-eye coordination.

Life drawing in charcoal.

So I’m mostly self-taught. I’ve experimented and stretched myself. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. And funded my expensive hobby with the unrelated day job. Then there’s the benign neglect of my kids…

It was summer 2015 when I set up an art room in a stone-built shed in my garden (in Abergavenny) before renovating the two-storey studio here in Longtown in 2019. With all this space I decided to open to the public and starting teaching linocut printmaking. From September 2020 I’ve also opened a gallery room in our home to the public as I’ve taken up landscape painting as well.

Going on a printmaking course is exciting and fulfilling. You can work closely with your own photographs (and tracing paper) – all you need is the confidence to make marks, and I can help you with that.

Lino-printing brings a lovely retro and vintage vibe to an image by enhancing the basic line. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll pick it up and make a print that pleases you – especially if you use good quality materials.

If you join me here, you’ll get to try out my wonderful new press, Dolly, handmade in Shropshire by the fabulous Gunning family in Ironbridge.

Warm wishes for your ventures in printmaking… I hope to see you at Skirrid Print Studio.