Helen Harley

biography & artist statement

I am a 49 year old disabled artist and disability blogger, living in Dorset, England.  I live with ME, POTS, and chronic neuropathic pain.  Since I was old enough to hold a pen, drawing has been the language in which I can best express who I am and latterly, what I am experiencing. My subject has always been intense emotion, expressed through vibrant colour. 

Four years ago my process of creating (desk, chair, me, paints) had to change when both sitting and standing for any time became impossible. I now lie down for about 85% of the time, so I have to draw and write on the flat with my head and knees slightly propped up.

I  use crayons, pencils, Biro, or felt tips on card or paper (water and paint slurping over the duvet not seemingly a sound idea!).  The paper is A4-5 as it is tricky to manage a pad of larger paper... although occasionally I work A3.

I will often start a piece when I am in intense pain, then do further work on it when I feel calmer. My work around the theme of disability is still developing, as I discover more about issues that affect me as a chronically ill and disabled woman. 

As I have become physically disabled, and my drawings have become a journal, of ongoing frustrations and grief. How Do You Feel? was the first work in which I could share my feelings about my disability and chronic illness. 

I hope that my work communicates fragility with great strength within, and that combination is what emerges from my fingers, whether I am portraying a flower, an angel or a long night of illness and pain.

Finding my voice as a disabled woman and using it, continues to be an essential element of being able to embrace who I am now.

A Blog about Life, Art and ME: http://thechronicelephant.blogspot.co.uk.


All Contributor Biographies

return to issue 5: august, 2017