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Helen Vaughan

Helen Vaughan

What inspires you, Helen?

I am inspired by South African landscapes, botanicals, colour, texture, and the human condition. I am a potter, printmaker, painter, textile designer, and jeweler, and am inspired by the cross-pollination of all of these disciplines.

How would you describe your work?

The mark of the hand embraces my philosophy of creating art. With my original formal training in textile design, pattern, rhythm, and texture, and their relationship with colour, are embodied in my work. The pieces are usually both decorative and functional – candleholders, bowls, and dinner plates, typically.

Who are your favourite artists and designers?

Paula Rego, a Portuguese painter and printmaker, is a favourite. Her attention to detail and dedication to the narrative is inspiring. I am currently following Dutch designers, especially the work of Hella Jongerius. I admire the diversity and experimental nature of her work.

What’s your approach to decorating?

My approach is fairly eclectic. I tend to be a bit of a magpie and would rather not eat for a week to save for a piece of art.

Tell us how your pieces are designed, painted and glazed?

What inspires their palette? Each piece is treated as if it were a blank white canvas. The surface is textured with rough sponges, embossed with a textured cloth and scratched into with a sharp tool to make my signature line. This technique is referred to as sgraffito. Once fired, the piece is given a wash with oxides to accentuate the texture, some areas are given a coating of glaze for colour and shine, and other areas are left matte. My colours are inspired by nature – especially the flashes of red, orange and green highlighted against the barren landscape of the West Coast of South Africa.