Melbourne/Macedon Ranges, Australia
Born in Kyneton, Central Victoria in 1970, Australian artist Helen Fraser creates works on paper, textiles and wall drawings. Using textiles as a metaphor for the human condition, her work often includes motifs like tassels, fragments, threads, knots, weaving, knitting and stitching. Fascinated with the relationship between the conscious and unconscious from a young age, it is not surprising that she chose to work as a Psychologist and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist in private practice over the last twenty years. While developing her skills and experience in this field, she also honed her skills in drawing, painting and textiles including knitting, heritage lace knitting, tapestry, embroidery, English Paper Piecing Patchwork and quilting. Today in her art practice she melds these skills and experiences together to create artwork with a strong psychological sensibility and poetic aesthetic.
In her 30’s Helen taught under tonal realist painter Barbara McCallum who is part of the well-known Twenty Painters in Melbourne. After four years she decided to pursue further studies in art due to a strong desire to find her own creative voice. As a result she has now built up her own distinctive style with a focus on stitch, colour and pattern. Her art making process mirrors the process of transformation she is honoured to witness so often in the therapy room. By carefully observing a 3D textile and drawing it in her sketchbook, she moves it into a new 2D form. From there she will often design and make textile works inspired by these drawings mirroring the way that we change and grow psychologically in a spiral or circular fashion.
Currently Helen is working towards her fourth solo exhibition, contributing to several community projects and conducting research into Australia’s Slave history and modern day slavery to inform future artworks. She is also building an art business which offers art packages to therapy and healing clinics, therapists and individuals who are passionate about healing and growth. Her work is held in public and private collections in Australia, USA, Canada and Italy.
In the process of making a textile, the craftsperson applies their concentration in a meditative fashion, repeating patterns and actions over and over until the piece is complete. In my art making I use drawing as a meditation. It is the medium that gets me connected most quickly and deeply to my feelings. Immediate, it shows me where I am at, right away. It is honest. And by drawing textiles and observing them closely I am aiming to get to the heart of the work and it’s maker as a type of honouring of those who have gone before me.
For the last twenty years I have worked as a Psychologist and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist in private practice in Prahran, Melbourne. This work is about using myself as a tool to facilitate the growth of another person’s mind, so they can think about their thoughts, feelings, desires, dreams, pain, longings and hopes. Slowly, session after session I see people’s guard come down which allows a mourning process to unfold, softening their spirit in the process. Being in the privileged position of witnessing the slow unfolding of another’s psyche deeply impacts on my own. The intensity and beauty as well as the exquisite sorrow of this work is a type of soul poetry which I am searching to express and honour in my drawings and textiles.