Thursday 26 April 2018

My breakthrough moment: Helen Steele

Helen Steele
Helen Steele

I was in Abu Dhabi, showing at Art Paris Abu Dhabi with a gallery called Bait Muzna, from Muscat in Oman, in 2009. I had originally studied fashion and then gone on to study art. The owner of the gallery was part of the Omani royal family, and I wanted to dress in something that was comfortable yet respectable from a cultural point, so as not to offend the owner and any potential collectors.

So, a month before I travelled, I printed one of my paintings onto a few metres of silk crepe. I created shapes that would work under the abaya and act as a wind tunnel, structurally. So, fast forward to the last day of the exhibition, and I had sold nothing. I was distraught, as I had to at least break even on the travel expenses. Within the space of one hour, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi had bought my largest piece, for his private collection, and I had met a lovely woman who, earlier that week, had been admiring my printed dresses and painted trainers.

I had told her in conversation at the launch of the exhibition that I had studied fashion, worked in the industry, branched into art and, by chance, combined the two with the four dresses.

She explained that she was a buyer for a retail group in the UAE and would be interested in buying some of the printed dresses. And so that's how I got back into fashion. It was something I always dreamed of, but never had the balls to do so, up until that point.

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