In Episode 09 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the brilliant London-based artist, Helen Downie, who goes under the guise of UNSKILLED WORKER!
A self-taught artist who first started painting aged 48 a mere six years ago, Unskilled Worker rose to prominence after posting her work online (instagram.com/unskilledworker), amassing nearly 300,000 Instagram followers, which led to designing collections for Gucci, and exhibiting at museums all over the world.
Known for her intensely vibrant and poetic dreamlike canvases full of her very personal portrayals of people – from those in her imagination, to those who feature in her past and present – Unskilled Worker draws the viewer into a highly atmospheric world of childlike innocence.
In this episode we discuss the artist's lifelong fascination with people; what led her to pick up a paintbrush age 48; picking up her subjects where she left off aged 14; painting Oscar Wilde to Radclyffe Hall; and how she learnt to live life as a painter – as well as dealing with such a dominant internet presence.
It was an honour to interview the great painter, who also speaks very movingly about dealing with grief through painting – and how occasionally, those from her past who may have got lost along the way, appear on the page in front of her.
WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE
An English Idyll 2
Radclyffe Hall and Una – The Tiger That Lost His Stripes
Oscar and Boesie
Thank you for listening!!
This episode is sponsored by the National Art Pass/ @artfund: https://bit.ly/32HJVDk
To receive a free tote bag with your National Art Pass, enter the code GREAT at checkout!
Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Sound editing by @_ellieclifford
Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
Music by Ben Wetherfield