In the space of a year, promising local artist Helen Mason (48) has gone from being a complete beginner to having her work exhibited in a number of galleries.
Her paintings have been shown in the Cockleshell, Green Acres, Wexford Arts Centre and St Michael's Theatre and she has a number of pictures in private collections in the UK, the US and Canada.
Now she is looking forward to her first solo exhibition called 'Along the Rocks' in the cafe at Hook Lighthouse, a familiar location for Helen who grew up in Slade, just down the road from the famous lighthouse and knows the Hook rocks like the back of her hand.
Her links with the sea run deep- her father worked in Hook Lighthouse and she spent her youth walking the rocks around the peninsula.
Helen said her experience of being in the water, especially kayaking with Sheilbaggan Kayak Academy, combined with her memories and her imagination, give her an innate sense of how water moves and feels. And this energy is reflected in her paintings.
As a self-taught artist she doesn't feel she has a particular technique. 'It's more like all this creative energy that I didn't even know was inside of me, just comes out. I don't sit down with a clear idea of what I want to paint, I layer colours on the canvas until the painting emerges - almost like how the ebb and flow of the outgoing tide reveals the beauty of rocks beneath the surface.'
She is passionate about preserving local knowledge about the 'Hook Rocks' and when the opportunity arose to have her own exhibition in the Hook, she wanted to call it 'Along the Rocks' as an acknowledgement of the local heritage.
Helen is a living example that it's never too late to try something new. She has had a varied career but this new chapter of her life opened up when she joined a community art class, through Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB), in Ramsgrange Community School.
'When I was leaving Ramsgrange Community School after my Leaving Cert and heading to London to pursue a career, I never imagined I'd be returning there almost three decades later or that it would open up these incredible opportunities for me', she said.The exhibition launch will take place at 3pm on Saturday November 17. The show will continue until Saturday, January 15, 2019.