The British artist Helen Beard is one of a growing number of women experimenting with ways of reclaiming sexual imagery from a woman’s perspective. Her brightly-coloured paintings of cropped sexual images are drawn from pornographic material, but subverted into joyous works, taking back ownership of sexual imagery from the predominately male gaze.

Helen grew up in Birmingham, and studied at Bournemouth and Poole college of Art and Design, graduating in 1992. For fifteen years she worked as a freelance wardrobe stylist and assistant art director in the film industry, at the same time continuing to practise her art, working in a variety of media including paint, collage and needlepoint. 

Her message is that sex should be associated with a moment of joy, without taboo, and that this subject matter can and must be dealt with by women. Interviewed in The Quietus, she says ‘I think it’s ridiculous that female sexuality is not talked about very much in society. It’s mostly defined by a male-dominated world, and it’s a lot easier for the patriarchal world to ignore female desire.’

A multifaceted artist, Helen Beard has recently been working on sculptures and installations as well as paintings and needlepoint. Characterised by polychromatic forms and shapes and reframing ‘pornographic’ imagery in abstract and complex arrangements, she invites her audience to engage fully with the sexual human body.

Helen’s website can be found here, where there is much more information about her and the full range of her art.

Example illustration