Helen Teede
Confession part7, 2021
Oil, graphite, coloured pencil, and oil pastel on sized Fabriano paper
75cm x 57cm


The project started with the idea that drawing requires knowledge and know-how, with all their intentions, to know at the same time how to be led by a line that still does not yet exist. As such, it is a practice contingent on sensing and following, rather than judging and prescribing, precluding the arrogance of thinking that my own individual thoughts are what are worth putting out into the world. It acknowledges that there is something bigger at play when you let material itself become a driving force. The drawing experiments explore the ways in which a painted line, a drawn line and a written line express themselves in a non-linear and non-linguistic process, a gift of openness and an invitation to direct experience. Recently I have been working a lot with models in motion and action rather than the conventional static modelling we are trained in. This kind of stress on the eye and the hand to capture an essence, also propels towards drawing on the foundation of faith in one’s intuition and no thought process at all. All the works in this series are based on one short session during which I made about 100 ink drawings – which began as reflections of the physical but ended up abstracting into response to the energy rather than the bodies.


Helen Teede was born in Zimbabwe in 1988 and currently lives and works in Harare. Having graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town, Teede returned to Zimbabwe with a commitment to the country, both as a person and as an artist. As a white Zimbabwean, Teede remains deeply conscious of the painful and conflicted history of race relations in the country. Reconciliation and integration are yet to be fully realised. Nevertheless, Zimbabwe is the only home that she has ever known and she loves it without reservation. In her practice as a painter Teede has taken her love for the land as a defining Zimbabwean characteristic that transcends race, gender, and political lines, using it as a starting point from which to build a vision that can be shared by all. Teede researches her work from the ground up, quite literally, by going on extensive hiking and camping expeditions that involve archeological digs, embedding her work in the land and its history. Her landscape based canvases build narratives of these journeys, which are both poetic and aspirational. They speak empathetically to a shared humanity and commitment to be of a place and of a time, making the prospect of genuine reconciliation and a future possible.