Ann-Helen English

Growing up in Northern Sweden surrounded by forests, mountains and lakes, together with memories of the magic and mystery of Nordic folk stories, had a profound impact on Ann-Helen English.  Now as an adult, she divides her time between London and a small island in the Baltic (one of the hundreds of islands in the Stockholm archipelago), revisiting many of these early influences.  Emerged in this remote environment, where the rawness of nature is the dominant force, she distills images from countless observations to arrive at brief glimpses or moments of truth – much like “seeing the world in a grain of sand” or indeed like a line of poetry that tells a whole story.  

Ann-Helen’s paintings often contain elements of real as well as invented nature, in the sense that sand, stone and plant life are incorporated as well as painted.  She often combines printmaking techniques with painting in her working process.  She graduated with an MA in Printmaking from the Slade School of Art in 1981 but uses the techniques to explore and experiment with painting.  She often uses the same plates over and over, inking them differently each time or using collage and handpainting to make each print unique. For Ann-Helen, the expressive qualities of printmaking are more interesting than the possibility of endless reproductions.

Ann-Helen was educated in Sweden, has a Fine Art BA Hons from Reading University and an MA in Printmaking from The Slade School of Art UCL (1981).  She won the Stowells Trophy at the Royal Academy in 1979 and has taken part in New Contemporaries at the ICA, showing also at the Serpentine Gallery and the Camden Art Centre and amongst others across the UK, USA and Sweden.

In 2020 I visited her island home and experienced the special landscape that she is so inspired to capture.  Here are some of my favourite works.