Helen Gory has long held a fascination for me, firstly as a gallerist, well-regarded for her sharp eye, can-do hands-on approach to people & the selling of artworks and more recently, as an effervescent powerhouse of a woman – a surprise package. Happily mentor, art adviser & friend all rolled into one, Gory has garnered a loyal following over her two decade long commitment to celebrating & championing some of Melbourne’s brightest talent.
Her artists’ and buyers alike are dealing with the loss they may feel akin to losing a dear friend upon the closure of the Prahran gallery space mid 2013 to join forces with Dianne Tanzer under the amusing banner of THIS IS NO FANTASY, inspired by the neon-lit truisms of famed American artist Jenny Holzer. This relationship was well-received last year as the logical if not market-savvy acknowledgement of the shifting of gallery models which has long been hotly debated and bandied about town for the past few years in earnest.
Gory had already entrusted the daily operations to then gallery manager Nicola Stein, now director, feeling as though the mantle had been passed safely to another to continue the path Gory has paved. Opportunities and challenges aside, Gory has quietly stepped back now entirely. It seemed an obvious choice.
‘How many gallerists are needed to change a light bulb’ begs the age-old joke? If your name is Helen Gory, well – just one. She is a do-er, a maker. It’s no surprise that she has emerged metamorphosis-like from the cocoon into the light, able to spread her wings outward into full flight.
I am for one, uber excited to be present at the first of what I feel certain will be the beginning of a natural unfurling of a talented artist who has jumped the fence from seller to maker. Interestingly, her vision is a s broad as it is defined as far as her influences are concerned.
‘Even though I’ve surrounded myself with art for the best part of 20 years, I’ve only just begun to create my own art. I cried the very first time I sat at my new workspace. I cried because for the first time in my life I actually made the time to make art. I cried because I don’t know why I waited so long to start. Perhaps all this will be revealed another time in another exhibition or perhaps it just wont be necessary any longer.’ – Helen Gory
‘The images are wishful, improbable, overwhelmingly busy, or minimal. They can be anything. I’m happy if they are emotionally evocative, tell a story or totally ambiguous. Sometimes subtle and sometimes in your face, secretive and political. I want to keep exploring. My real world and my pretend world are merging. Fantasy and reality, injustice and cruelty, pure love and joy. I can find them all in the images, scraps, tears and cuts I make. I can make my own world and shut out the real world.”
‘I like that I can see where the page is torn and the image cut, it’s not slick and it’s not perfection. I keep the works fairly small to a medium size mainly due to the constraints of the paper. It’s the spontaneity of the process and the rawness of the paper combined with the quirkiness of the content that seduce the viewer into looking intently at the final artwork.’
‘I’ve loved the manifesto of Dada since I read about it as a young teenager. I don’t believe that I really understood its underground nature and subversive attitude but it spoke to me nevertheless.Moreover the art of Art Spiegelman, Egon Schiele, Hannah Hoch, Gustav Klimt, Francisco Goya, Emil Nolde, Diane Arbus has forever haunted me. Without being consciously aware when I started collage two years ago, these former influences of my teenage youth are shaping what I’m creating today. It’s like breathing. I feel utterly natural doing it. I recently read that a majority of female artists of the early 20th century chose collage as their preferred medium of art and so it seems I’ve joined the ranks.’
‘My daughter came up with the title, ‘through these paper walls’. It’s from a poem we can’t locate nor recall its author. It’s so apt. The medium of paper and the walls that I’ve finally broken down and braved to begin doing art.’
‘Secrets, desires, absurd ideas of woman and who they should be, how they should look, sex, politics, fashion, social injustices. I feel helpless to do anything so I let out my frustrations and anger here in these works. And I try not to be repetitive. Lou Reed once said “why would I want to play the same song the same way every time I performed live, I’d rather cut off my toes.” I like his sense of drastic.’
‘Collage allows me the freedom I need to express myself. I’m here and I’m excited and happy to be creating. I don’t want to stop. As my son once told me, Hokusai didn’t start his art career until he was 75 years of age. So I’ve started, and I hope to continue.’
Somehow, I think she will.