Approved: 16.08.2006

Helen Dryden

Artist, Curator

Approved: 16.08.2006

Helen Dryden

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      Artist Statement

      Helen Dryden

      Artist Statement / Biography 13th February 2021

      Located in Leeds, UK, I create drawings and paintings with atmospheric or emotional resonance, which can often veer into absurdity.

      Working primarily in acrylic on canvas, I explore the tension between life as external ‘reality’ and my inner imagination and emotions. My paintings are sometimes inspired by sketches and photographs I have taken of friends and family; at other times they are purely imaginary scenarios.

      Music, walking amongst trees, and horror/sci-fi books and films feed my interest in perception, alternate realities and the exploration of humanity and nature’s strangeness. I think about humanity’s place in the world, and how we fit in with each other and our environment.

      I combine abstract with figurative imagery to create paintings that can be ambiguous and dreamlike, or more representational. Within the body of my work the viewer can be free to make their own associations, as they weave in and out of reality.

      I studied BA (Hons) Graphic Arts and Design at Leeds Metropolitan University and MA Curation Practices at Leeds Arts University, and have a Foundation Degree from Cleveland College of Art.

      I am the curator of Compact Contemporary gallery, a miniature art gallery which can be viewed on Instagram @compactcontemporary

      CV & Education


      MA Curation Practices - Leeds Arts University

      BA (Hons) Graphic Arts & Design - Leeds Beckett University

      Foundation Course - Cleveland College of Art & Design


      Solo exhibitions:

      2020 - Tidal Reality (online exhibition) 

      2018 – A speck of dust, Heart, Leeds
      2016 - New Paintings, BrewDog Leeds (Love Arts Leeds)

      2015 - East Street Arts Open Studios, Leeds

      2015 - Boom Shk (g’dit g’dit dat), Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, Manchester

      2014 – Another New Entry, Jordan's Solicitors, Wakefield (part of Artwalk Wakefield)

      2014 – Sodium Laureth Sulphate, The Crooked House, Leeds

      2013/14 – bof! Bowery Visual Arts, Leeds
      2007 - Paintings and Printings, Otley Courthouse, Otley
      2006 - Helen Dryden at The Reform Bar, The Reform Bar, Leeds., Leeds
      2005 - Solo Exhibition, Art's Cafe, Leeds, West Yorkshire


      Selected Group Exhibitions:

      2021 - Leeds Summer Group Show (online) 

                 Personifying Pleasure, Stay Home Gallery (online)

                 Jungle, (online)

                 Longlisted, D31 Art Prize

      2020 - Creatures, Beasts, Myths - Vacant Museum (online) 

                 Uncovered Streets – Instagram @uncovered_streets curated by Sarah Grant

      2019 – Hygge, kapow! Coffee, Leeds.

                 Twice as nice, PS Mirabel, Manchester

                 Huddersfield Summer Exhibition, The Making Space, Huddersfield.

                 SIZE Matters, Gallery One, The World of Glass, St Helens

      2017 – Capturing Movement, Studio 3 Gallery, University of Kent, Canterbury

                  with Kat Archibald, Paper Idols, Alfred, Leeds

                 Hand In/Hand Out (Double Yolk), Lime Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

                 Hip Hop Happy Birthday, Sela Bar, Leeds.

      2016 – SPECTRUM, PS Mirabel, Manchester

                  Her Sela Art Thing II, Sela Bar, Leeds

                  Moments, The Bowery, Leeds

      2015 - Screen Dump at Love Arts Leeds*

                 Shelf Life, PS Mirabel, Manchester

      2014 - Otley Courthouse 10th Anniversary show, Otley

                Mexico Members' Show, Mexico, Leeds

      2013 - Colourful Creations, The Classroom Gallery, Nottingham

      2009 - Leeds Gallery Open, Leeds Art Gallery
                 Particles, Particles, Surface Gallery, Nottingham

      2008 - Leeds Bradford Imprint, Tonic Art Space at LGI, The Carriageworks, and Leeds Design Innovation Centre, Leeds
                 Salon, Patrick Studios, St Mary's Lane, Leeds

      2007 - 7 Year Itch, Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery, Leeds
                 Imprint, Leeds General Infirmary Tonic Gallery, Design Innovation Centre, The Light,          Leeds
                 Leeds Artists' Show 2007, Leeds Art Gallery
                 Shoes: The Agony and the Ecstasy, Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford

      2006 - Artist's Show 2006, Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds
                 Multiply, Corn Exchange, Leeds, West Yorkshire
                 Off The Shelf, Saltburn Gallery, Saltburn, North Yorkshire
                  Sefton Open 2006, The Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport, Merseyside

                 Testbed 4, Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery, Leeds
      2004 - Keighley Arts Factory, Keighley, West Yorkshire
                 Portraits Now, Crescent Arts, Scarborough, North Yorkshire

      Art Fairs:


      2020 – The Virtual Art Fair – Second Edition 

      2017 – Art&, York Racecourse, York

      2013 – Juju Showcase Spectacular, Leeds

      2013 – MAKE Art and Design Fair, Wakefield

      2007 - Leeds Art Fair Lite, The Light, Leeds

      2005 and 2006 - Leeds Art Fair, The Light, Leeds, West Yorkshire

      Competitions, prizes and awards:

      2019 – Highly Commended – Leeds Museums and Galleries Armistace and After: Peace Outreach Volunteer. (Outstanding contribution to engaging museum audiences)
      2015 - CIT (Creative Industries Trafford) Micro-Commission Award, selected in partnership with Castlefield Gallery. This award is funded by Arts Council England and seeks to help develop the work of promising contemporary artists.

      2009 - Who are you? Photographic competition - runner up, Impressions Gallery, Bradford, West Yorkshire
      2008 - Creative 30 - Nomination, VICE, Volvo, The Independent and Yahoo!,
      2008 - Street and Studio: Urban portraiture photography competition., Tate Modern, London, UK


      'Street or Studio' photobook


      Catalogue 'Capturing Movement', University of Kent

      'Then and now' 10th anniversary of The Bowery, Leeds.

      Press (Art Practice:)    (interview) 5 mins in)

      Press (Curatorial:)