Artist Helene Warne has always had a creative flair. When she was little, she would make cards out of banana leaves, rag dolls and mosaics.
In high school, Helene was more of an athletics star who dreamed of going to the Australian Institute of Sport. Unfortunately, that dream was cut short when her leg started giving way without notice.
After school, Helene studied to become an art teacher at Seven Hills College of Art. However, she left after a year of study because she felt her shyness had restricted her. She then began a career in retail at Myer where she worked for 15 years. During this time, she got married and had two children.
In 2005, Helene was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which meant she had to leave her job at Myer and her marriage ended. This was a very difficult time for Helene, who decided to pursue art again.
Being creative helped Helene take back control when she thought her life was spiralling.
“It takes me to a place I love to be in, for hours, just creating and learning. When I’m creating, I feel limitless, with my limited body,” says Helene.
Helene’s watercolour painting ‘Tranquil Waters’ was displayed as part of EPIC Assist’s (EPIC) 2019 art exhibition ‘Shifting Perspectives’, along with 60+ other artists with a disability or mental health condition.
“I felt quite honoured to be included in this exhibition. It was great to see so many different types of disabilities represented All the works were of equal standard to that of a non-disabled artist,” Helene said.
“It made me feel respected and just as valid as others. I am proud to be given this opportunity to showcase my work in a show where everyone is accepted.”
Helene was one of the many artists who sold their artwork. This was incredibly exciting for Helene, who struggled to find a platform to sell and promote her work in the past.
Currently, artists with disability earn 42% less than artists without a disability. EPIC’s annual art exhibition is free for artists to enter, with 100% of artwork sales going to the artist.
The exhibition provides a platform for artists to proudly showcase their work, reach new audiences and potentially launch their career as an artist.
Since the exhibition, Helene has been inspired to grow her work. She has the desire to create a children’s book and produce as much work as possible before her MS takes too much of a hold. She is currently in the process of creating a website where she can sell her work.
You can view Helene’s ‘Tranquil Waters’ piece and other amazing artwork by people with disability in the ‘Shifting Perspectives’ online catalogue.