Wendy Helliwell is a mixed media artist working from her studio in Edinburgh. She grew up in the 80’s surrounded by Fashion, Pop Culture, Advertising and the growing visual media (Vogue, The Face, I.D, MTV and Cosmopolitan) where many continue to influence her work to this day.
Predominately self-taught, Wendy advanced to complete two mixed-media courses at Edinburgh College of Art in 2013 adding further strings to her bow. Her continued love of fashion, style and identity, yet remaining sustainable in her approach sees her mixing traditional materials with unconventional inclusive of glossy magazines, make-up, nail-polish, old clothing and other throw-away effects in her fusion of painting and collage-based compositions.
A keen environmentalist, Wendy recycles as much as possible in her works. In 2014 she collected make-up from the supporting public to create a large piece of art ‘Shades of Life’ which was auctioned off to raise awareness and funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. This was followed closely by the media resulting in multiple Newspaper and TV coverage.
In 2019 Wendy’s design ‘Aff Yir Rocker’ was selected for Oor Wullie’s Big bucket trail, the first ever nationwide public art trail. Celebrating Scottish music and encouraging recycling, she secured donations of old clothing from 11 of Scotland’s musical greats from Midge Ure to KT Tunstall to name a few and a signature on the sculpture itself from Lewis Capaldi on the same day he launched his now worldwide number 1 album.
Wendy aims to represent the modern consumer landscape with a combination of celebration and critique by disassembling and reconstructing the cultural symbols, motifs and paradigms of the past and present. This results in colourful, tactile, eye-catching works often depicting an unplanned narrative and frequently presenting themselves in 3D form for maximum impact.
Artist Statement about her 'Quirky Queues'
“My fun and colourful panoramic mixed media works in the form of a queue are the perfect platform for me to showcase my imaginary characters and love of fashion. However now older and wiser I am much more sustainable in my approach and aim to put the spotlight on the consumerism culture of today provoked continuously by advertising hence the use of glossy fashion magazines.
Initially created in a quick, unplanned, playing around with materials way, they were spotted by Guy Portelli (famous sculptor from BBC’s Dragon’s Den in 2008 ) at Edinburgh Art Fair in 2015. After some mentoring and encouragement from him they have gone from strength to strength and are fast becoming my best-selling works.
Starting from an initial drizzle of nail polish these personalities are gradually built up and brought to life. Fashion prints are collated to create colour based assemblages and then photocopied onto cartridge paper. The clothing is then torn into outfits, fixed to the canvas and then further worked on with ink, acrylics and additional nail polish. Then the embellishment of accessories cut straight from glossy fashion magazines finishes of the stylish ensemble, very similar to the ‘Paper Dolls’ many of us were familiar with as children.
My integration of concept, colour and form express my aspirations of getting closer to the playful spirit of creativity and I aim to evoke a feeling of nostalgia, potentially finding the characters have similarities to people we know or possibly even ourselves.
I often choose a theme or place as the backdrop striving to construct a strong eye-catching narrative depicting 21st century styles, cultures and behaviours.
My latest series has seen me using resin as a finishing medium to allow the viewer to get even closer to the work to appreciate the detail and textures within yet ensuring longevity concurrently.”