Helen Downie has become one of fashion’s favourite artists; her faces with oversized eyes draw into the heart and soul of every person, capturing an intangible emotion.
While recovering from cancer in 2013, Helen picked up a paintbrush again, something she hadn't done for 33 years. Her first painting was of a girl standing outside a chocolate shop in Italy, which she disliked so much she tore it up, but luckily, she had taken a snap of it and at the insistence of her son's friend, uploaded it to her Instagram account, called the unskilled worker, a handle referring to her lack of formal training.
Her paintings of New York kids and young skinheads caught the attention of renowned photographer Nick Knight, who invited her to be part of a fashion website of his called SHOWstudio. It was during this time she was inspired by Alessandro Michele's first Gucci menswear show where, "I wanted it all: the high neck ruffles, the deep red silk shirt", she said. She promptly ran upstairs to paint "Oh, to be a Boy!'. That painting, which now hangs on the wall of Alessandro's, was the turning point for her. She was invited by the creative director to interpret his A/W15 collection and has since then created 35 works for a sponsored Gucci exhibition in Shanghai. If you go onto her website here, you can download a special work Helen created of the Gucci Unskilled Worker Dreaming in high or low res format.
Helen now paints in between her house in Wimbeldon or in sunny Italy! Follow her on the links below:
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