Featured Artist: Helen Musselwhite
Helen Musselwhite is an artist and illustrator working predominantly with paper to create magical, colourful pieces from her studio in Manchester.
With a deep-seated love for art (kick started one childhood Christmas by a bumper pack of felt tip pens!), Helen’s work is rooted in vibrant colour palettes and evocative whimsical scenes.
My creative ventures have embraced decorative furniture, jewellery and painting – all of which I’ve deeply enjoyed but which have since been eclipsed by my affinity with paper; the medium that was patiently waiting for me all along.
Over the years she has worked for a whole host of clients, from household brands like Cadburys and McDonalds, to cultural organisations such as the National Theatre and The Royal Academy of Dance, alongside numerous personal commissions and exhibition pieces. What unites all of her work is the sense that she is always creating a real feast for the eyes, delighting those with a curious mind and a love of visual storytelling.
My ‘Showtime’ piece for The Dance Gazette takes inspiration from the Bauhaus Triadic Ballet with a bit of Alexander Girard thrown in for good measure.
All of Helen’s pieces are infused with a sense of play or exploration. Not least her collaborative piece with End of Play, in which she transformed her beloved little houses from the micro to the macro as part of a charity exhibition.
The giant paper houses were displayed in the window of art shop Fred Aldous, and photographed by Manchester-based photographer Layla Sailor for her advent photoshoot.
Made up of many layers of hand cut papers, Helen’s work is usually glued together for photography or framing. However, amongst her pieces you’ll also find some of our favourite work: beautiful freestanding scenes set beneath glass domes.
The thing I love most about what I do is the fact that I get to make things everyday in my studio, surrounded by my materials, 6Music and my dog Earl (but only if he doesn’t raid the paper bin!)
Unsurprisingly, these perfect paper microcosms caught the attention of the National Trust, and last year she was commissioned to make a miniature version of their property Baddesley Clinton.
Helen’s work distills a sense of exploration and discovery, of curiosity and magic; encompassing a love for the British countryside and nature, her particular love of little houses and wooden cabins, and, as any fan comes to notice, her beloved dog Earl.
In a commission for the Manchester Museum Nature Discovery Gallery, she even went so far as to include actual natural specimens, creating an impressive large-scale installation scene of British woodland, incorporating the museum’s extensive collection of stuffed British wild animals.
Although she makes her work mostly from paper, we were interested to learn that she is actively exploring other materials to use alongside it, with wood veneers, metals and plastics all in her sights this year. Her love of the countryside and fascination with peculiar little houses has also inspired a counting book for children – coming out later this year. We can’t wait to check it out!