The artist Helga Hislop in her studio.
Country Living Magazine/
The National Magazine Company

 

As a child born in wartime London, my Estonian mother, an artist and my Welsh father, an author, decided to seek safety in the mountains of Wales.
 
With my two brothers, we would climb the surrounding hills to the haunting cry of the curlew, cross fields of sheep, one with a pony but another with a not so friendly bull from the farm where we bought our eggs and milk. We would explore the woods, paddle in our nearby stream and on special occasions, picnic by the river Rheidol.
 
These were the carefree days when we returned home with our ‘treasures’. They might be feathers, pebbles, tadpoles, wildflowers, leaves and insects. This was how my love for nature surely began…….
 
After studying at the Cardiff College of Art and the Central School of Arts and Crafts, I left to begin my career - as a graphic designer. Then in 1978 I was determined to become a botanical artist and later knew that I only wanted to portray wild flora, fruits and then insects, all in watercolour.  By 2006 I began to paint on vellum. It is still a challenge but a happy one!

'Life in nature reveals the truth of things'                                 Dűrer

 

 

Testimonials

1. You capture the reality of every object you choose to paint, as if you were leading us into the open air where I can almost feel the cold, damp air of spring, smell the breathing earth, remember kneeling to pick wild strawberries.
Apart from your sensitive eye and immense talent, your painting shows your intense love of natural things, precious wildings. I share that love. Thank you warmly.                                                                                                  
Beth Chatto
 
2. What is appealing to me is that her able draughtsmanship, her skill in composition, the patience in scrutiny and execution of fine detail and then, that special magiic quality that makes it all work. Her plant portraits dutifully enchant and inform.
Maureen Lazarus BSc (Hons)
Curator (Botanical Illustration)
National Museum Wales
 
3. Her work has minute detail and intensity, the flowers painted actual size or slightly smaller , with great feeling for their natural poise and their modest habit. She carefully avoids making them more impressive than they are, and as a result her paintings have an essential truth about them. At the same time her use of light on rounded forms, such as crab apple, is magical and goes beyond mere modelling. Even the different disease, scratches or insect damage which her subjects suffer, are faithfully reproduced.
Martyn Rix  

4 I just love Helga Hislop. She is firstly a remarkable person and secondly, a wonderful botanical artist. I own a single painting by her but it means a great deal to me as it is a perfect Snake's Head Fritillary and Snail. It gives me such pleasure, every time I see it, the luminosity of the painting on vellum with such perfect colour – it’s magical.
Jonathan Cooper

5 There are three of Helga’s paintings in my collection, each of them treasured.  One is an exquisite circlet of wild spring flowers so delicate it seems ephemeral; another is of most beautifully painted rosehips on vellum, reminiscent of an ancient herbal.  The third, a recent acquisition, is a tiny work of autumnal objects with echoes of Hoefnagel and van Kessel, with her scraps of leaves, mistletoe and a snail scattered on the vellum.
She has a great gift for recording the small and inconspicuous, the ‘found’ objects in our gardens.  Her paintings, especially on vellum, have a quiet and reflective quality which will endure.
Shirley Sherwood