UEL Fine Art graduate is reaching new heights
Helen Pritchard honoured to win inaugural Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize
It would be romantic to say that visual artist Helen A Pritchard always knew what she wanted to be: but it wouldn’t be true.
When she arrived in London from her native South Africa in her twenties, she had no idea what career she wanted to pursue.
After leaving school she left South Africa to work in Bahrain "just to escape and make some money", and in 1997 found herself in the UK. Once in London, a variety of casual jobs and part-time art courses followed until she decided to embark on a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree at the University of East London (UEL) in 2006.
After graduating in 2009, and now clear about the career she wanted to pursue, she went on to do an MA, winning a Stanley Spencer Scholarship to the Royal College of Art and graduating in 2011. But even then, she couldn’t just relax in the studio and enjoy the life of a working artist.
“It was very difficult. I had to continue doing other jobs," she says. "I always had an extra job. But after my MA I had a sell-out show, and was able to pay off my debts. That was a break.”
It was still a hard slog to survive as an artist right up until last year when Helen won the inaugural Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize worth £10,000. She poured all of the prize money back into her art.
Luckily for Helen, she now has some regular clients.
In June, Helen took part in an exhibition at the JGM Gallery in Battersea and this month she has a solo show at the 1961 Gallery in Singapore.
“People forget that you don’t just become a genius right away like Picasso. There is learning. There are levels. You can’t just become a Basquait overnight.
"I’m quite glad that my peak has been later rather than earlier. If it had come earlier I would have failed because I wasn’t as sure of myself. It’s come at the right time.”