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Art Confluence

By Helen Gavaghan

10th May, 2014. Bradford.
I had to reach, because this was my first guided tour into abstract art, led by Helen Baker, a colourist - as was Leonardo - for whom colour is material expresssion. Helen was speaking earlier this evening at the Kala Sangam Centre in Bradford (tucked away by the city's Cathedral, and hidden currently by some kind of building site).

As well as being an abstract artist Helen is professor emeritus at the University of Northumbria. But this evening we met the artist, peeping from behind readings of her academic writing, and with a pleasing lack of didactism. Enlarged images of her art were shown on the screen to her left as she read extracts from her theory.

Kala Sangam means art confluence. In this case art and music; Helen's work in conversation with the the music of John Alder. The two dancing together, to judge by the rythm Helen's body toyed with as she described one canvas. Their exhibition at the Kala Sangam is called "Colour of sound".

The North East of England and Rome are the spaces Helen explores.

Loveley hues of yellow and green, or stern unbending blues and blacks. White space giving shape to shapes. Pinks, elegant, delicate, not bold; was I looking at the Piazza Navona on a mellow late summer evening? Were those vinyards around Frascati?

Dressed in stone-coloured tunic, black leggings and brown leather pumps Helen echoed her next series of colour and shape depicting her home in north-eastern England. Peaty, earthy - stone.

To Helen colour is an intrinsic element of thing, and thing is expressed on her convases as gouache and acrylic shapes. Washed over with colour, detail in the colour tones and streaks.

The artwork an aspect of her mind's relationship to the thing observed.

What is the relationship of your work to your inner emotion I asked, and I am not certain I understood the answer. Does the satisfying juxtaposition of shape, colour and hues reveal an inner world of experience? Colour being what links external stand-alone reality with inner neurally imposed reality? Without colour the two would not be joined. Artist in place responding to colour, creating uniqueness from a world seen through a billion eyes? I love a good mystery.

The Kala Sangam Art Centre in Bradford seeks to promote multicultural understanding through art. Small, non critical punctuation correction made on 14th May, 2014. HG.

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