Helene came to Visual Arts by a circuitous route. Born in New Zealand, she grew up back and forth between Australia and NZ. She studied Pure Sciences then Social Sciences and initially worked as a Secondary Teacher. This was followed by working as a General, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nurse and she also underwent specialised courses in Group Work. She married and is the mother of two children. Helene commenced her art career whilst receiving rehabilitation treatment following a stroke and back injury. She then added to her studies, a Diploma of Fine Arts, her Bachelor of Arts and Aboriginal Cross Cultural Awareness Studies. Helene was working for her Masters Degree when circumstances necessitated her withdrawal. Her extensive life experiences, her studies and vocations all feed into her visual arts practice.
Helene has used her extensive knowledge of the Arts, combined with her diverse knowledge of life to work as an Art Facilitator and researcher. As an artist, Helene was widely known in the Community - by varying forms of artists including community artists; children in schools; the YMCA mobile bus youth, was a member of Committees for the City of Melville and the City of Fremantle; she has presented papers and research (eg: on graffiti) and so on… She has also won numerous awards for her paintings. Helene may produce images which force one to question one’s perception; she may challenge or comment on social issues which concern her; she may produce experimental art work which also researches the brain and the format for art in the future; she may teach children and parents in the street about colour and life; she may research the meaning of graffiti and youth disconnect …. Helene also assisted Radio Fremantle to become established and provided links to visual arts; she helped Atwell Community Arts Centre to revive successfully and incorporated social support mechanisms. Whatever she is doing or wherever she may be found, Helene is always working hard for the future, the meaning of Visual Arts and the social well being of people in the community. She “disappeared” for several years but a brain tumour and surgery seems to have encouraged her to once again continue her work.
[Helene Merriman is a Local Artist and long standing member of the Management Committee (and previously the Steering Committee) of the Melville Arts Foundation]