Helen Carter VAS won the Curator’s Choice Award for this painting ‘Covid Contrast’ in Acrylic in the 2023 VAS George Hicks Foundation Contemporary Exhibition
Like many artists my love of drawing was evident at an early age and I was always encouraged by my father who attended the School of Design Drawing Class at the National Gallery of Victoria in1931 to 1934. In 1932 he was awarded 1st Prize of ten pounds in the Antique School for a full figure from a cast.
Unfortunately my father was unable to continue as, in his words 'I couldn’t afford the luxury of painting full time.' He had a ‘tough’ life growing up with thirty-two residential moves and his mother passing away when he was only young. Although he was not able to continue his studies he retained an interest in art and his fellow members of the Art School. His life took a different direction when he married, raising a family and succeeding in business.
Helen Carter VAS drawing with pastels by the Tambo River at Kalimna
For me art was always a favourite subject at school and I treasured an ink drawing of a ‘hot and cross bun’ Charles Bush gave me when he visited the school. Roger Kemp was also a visitor to the school.
On entering the work force I was employed by Daniel Condon & Co Solicitors then Legal & General Insurance. Two years later marriage, followed by three children under six years, life was busy.
When the youngest child reached school age I returned to work. During this time I enrolled in a Council of Adult Education evening art class under the tuition of Richard Ward.
'The Model Sleeps', pastel
'Evening Broadbeach', oil pastel
'The Balcony Noosa' pastel
In 1980 a move to rural Seymour gave me the opportunity to paint more often. Tuition from Betty Parsons, then Pat Shannon of CAE Melbourne aided my development. Work was mainly exhibited at Artisans Gallery, Nagambie. During this time a surprise gift from my father was my first year’s membership to the Victorian Artists Society.
On return to Melbourne in 1985 I enrolled in classes at the VAS with tutors Ming McKay, David Taylor and Margaret Cowling. During this early period I exhibited many works as it was necessary to cover the expenditure that comes with painting. Works were shown in VAS Exhibitions, Rotary Art Shows, and Commercial Galleries; Parkville, AMP, Artistic Touch, Mt Alexander, Custom House, Spectrum, and with interior design business Brighter Homes.
I joined the VAS Friday Life Group and enjoyed both portrait and life sessions. Group member artist Margaret Lourey was keen to see the pastel medium recognised more widely. Along with approximately 12 other dedicated pastel artists I attended a meeting in the Cato Gallery where we individually voiced our interest in the pastel medium. In 1986 the Pastel Society of Victoria was formed with foundation members celebrating at a General Meeting held at the VAS headed by founding President Margaret Lourey and Patron Ming MacKay. It was an interesting time serving on the committee in those early years. In 2001 I became a member of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters & Sculptors serving on the Committee in 2004, 2005, Honorary Secretary 2006 to 2009. There was much work, in particular leading up to the 2009 celebrations of the 100th Annual Exhibition, but it was all good experience.
Art continues to be a very important part of my life and has helped me through many challenging times. It can be all absorbing and at times frustrating, but it can also bring satisfaction and pleasure. I have always strived to execute a work from the heart and endeavour to capture a mood or convey a feeling as well as a likeness of the subject. To see the artistic gene surfacing in the younger generations of my extended family gives me much pleasure.
'Autumn Beauty Yarra River', pastel
'Ballerina in Pink', acrylic
Victorian Artists Society VAS
Melbourne Society of Women Painters & Sculptors Life Member
National Gallery of Victoria
Past Member, Foundation, Committee Member Pastel Society of Victoria
Goulburn Shire Victoria, Darebin City Council, Rats of Tobruk, ATA Melbourne,
East Melbourne Historical Society, Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute,
National & International Private Collections Portraits include: Eric Risstrom AM
Robert Semple OAM BEM, Dyson Heppell AFL Captain Essendon,
Superintendent G Carter Vic Police Service Medal
We would like to pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land on which our building stands, their leaders, past, present and emerging.