W.H. Patterson Fine Art Catalogue 1977.

Introduction by John Stafford.


It is now almost three years since I wrote a short account of Helen Bradley's life and work, for her excellent and successful Christmas Exhibition in Oldham. Since then she has continued to amaze me with her skill and enthusiasm which is so obviously reflected in the two large and remarkable paintings in this exhibition.

I think it is now fairly well known that Helen Bradley was born in Lees, a village now within the Oldham boundary. Whilst still young she had a little training in jewelry and embroidery at the local School of Art but did not start to paint until the age of 65. In the few years since then she has become one of Britain's best known and best loved artists, and her admirers continue to grow both at home and overseas. Millions have seen her on television where her optimistic charm and enthusiasm shine on the screen as well as in her painting and writing.

Many unusual interests are woven into her work - a love of early Moghul pictures, the Dutch Masters, and works of Chinese painting, plus one of her special ingredients - the recollection of atmosphere and event.

For all the apparent simplicity of her work many of Helen Bradley's special talents are revealed in this present exhibition. Her accomplished and masterly use of colour, her skill in manipulating compositions on widely different scales, and her ability to fill her paintings with events which show something almost rare, both an affirmation of life and an unusually humorous vision.

Yet there are deeper layers and enigmas in her work. In some of her paintings God himself appears and is content to be a natural element in the painting, giving a timeless quality to the work. Yet Helen Bradley does have a talent reserved perhaps for some special people as a gift - the ability to repeatedly create and share joy, perhaps her most precious possession. How does she do it?

Remember from one of her books - "In the beginning, said Great Aunt Jane, God lived in the void - and he was very young."

John Stafford.