By Karen Pereczes
As appeared in Pembrokeshire Life magazine. Copyright Karen Pereczes 2005.
Astley is a local artist whose work is inspired by the Pembrokeshire coast,
particularly at Manorbier where she lives with her husband and two daughters.
explains: "While exploring facets of nature and notions of containment, I
gravitated towards the seashore, which I have always found to be a source of
Helen's work originated from experiments based on the sculptural forms of seaweed, by using slip clay and moulds. Helen explains: "Although this was a great starting point, eventually I found this limiting. I naturally progressed on to hand building each piece using stoneware clay, which enabled me to express my ideas."
experimented with different glazes to successfully create the texture of
barnacle-encrusted rock and the essence of the seashore by high-firing
stoneware, on ceramic pieces entitled 'Small Vessels 1 & 2', and 'Medium Vessels 1, 2 & 3'. Her sensitive use of colour is subtly
larger pieces, entitled 'Large Vessels 1 & 2', are suggestive of ancient
standing stones of megalithic proportions, echoing the shape of the cliff edge
where the land meets the sea.
"I am particularly interested in the 'negative' spaces within the landscape - such as those created by geological movement, natural erosion or tidal currents. Each space between ridges of sand expresses a positive force and a positive form."
has also used her photographic skills to create a print onto silk entitled 'Pool', depicting tide-filled ridges of sand, which hangs as a backdrop,
complementing her ceramic pieces.
"My experiences have led me to draw comparisons with the positive and negative 'spaces' between us in our human relationships and how we relate to one another."