Spotlight - Helen Llewelyn

Textile artist Helen Llewelyn was born in Darley Dale, Derbyshire, moved to London in her teens, married a Welshman and settled in Carmarthen, where her four children and granddaughter were born. The beauty of the Tywi Valley and the Peak District inspired much of her work, though the city art galleries and quality fabric stores were a big influence.

The interest in textiles started early, then developed through City and Guilds classes, and eventually a contemporary textiles course at Carmarthen School of Art. Combining her quilting and weaving skills Helen won the National Wool Museum of Wales’ Annual Colleges Competition on the theme ‘Love Tokens’ in the First World War. She gained a First class honours B.A. degree at the College.

Her first solo exhibition was at the King Street Gallery in 2009, and her many works displayed there over the years have included the tapestry Carmarthen Bridge, and her interpretation of Mererid Hopwood’s poem Alban Hefin.

'The approach to my textile art, whether a commission or exhibition, is one of story-telling. Clough Williams-Ellis’ Carmarthen Bridge straddles the river and the railway with sleek lines and aerodynamic buttresses. It splits the river into three elements, but Tyson-Smith’s bronze relief is a reminder that it was once split by seven arches. The bustle has long gone from the Quay, but its walls still try to constrain the mighty Tywi. There are also muddy banks with thriving vegetation, and the backdrop of green hills has changed little in centuries. On a calm day, the surface of the water is still, yet in a fleeting moment ripples from a light breeze dazzle like sparkling beads in a reflecting sun'.  

The story starts outdoors but is brought to life on the table loom and sewing machine in her ‘never big enough’ studio space, but whose French window lets in the glorious daylight ideal for a textile artist. The calm relaxing atmosphere of the garden also permeates through the window but always at odds with the loathed yet necessary deadlines.

As with flowers and trees, the colours and textures of fabrics are inspirational. No favourites, but the plain red woollen flannel from Felin Teifi was excellent quality. Dip-dyeing natural cotton yarns help create subtle painterly colour palettes, with acrylic yarns and Swarovski beads an additional delight. A good stash of material is not only essential but a joy, as too the many techniques from Soumac to Shibori.

Taking part in exhibitions is always a pleasure and more so if the art work pleases others. Seeing different places, scenery and cultures is much appreciated, and there is great pride in knowing that the contemporary textiles continue a culture from the dawn of history.

Helen will be in the gallery on Saturday 21st October 11am - 3pm for you to meet her and have a chat about her work.

Featured Artist Helen Llewelyn

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Textiles have been the vehicle for Helen's art work for the last ten years. She joined King Street Gallery in January 2008.

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Spotlight - Helen Llewelyn

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