Helen Gorrill is an artist, author and editor in the arts, with a research interest in gendered transnational aesthetics. Her doctoral thesis was entitled ‘The Gendered Economic and Symbolic Values in Contemporary British Painting’, and notes the emergence of two new theories namely, Androgynous Aesthetics and Essentialist Aesthetics (see Gorrill Aesthetic Models). Helen lectures widely in visual culture, most recently at the University of Edinburgh. Her new book Women Can’t Paint: Gender, the Glass Ceiling and Values in Contemporary Art will be published by I.B. Tauris/Bloomsbury in March 2019 (in press) and she is currently co-editing a new volume of the Drawing Conversations series (Cambridge Scholars).
In her artistic life, Helen Gorrill’s work takes many different forms of expression, including collage, textiles, drawing, painting and installation. She is known for her controversial works: in 2009 her degree show, featuring drawings inspired by religious pamphlets that featured dominant women and sexually submissive men, was censored. Guardian writer Henry Porter wrote, “The male figures have been censored but to protect whom? The spam I receive contains more indecency than Ms Gorrill’s work. And it is much less interesting because she makes a valid point.” Gorrill’s practice is prolific and diverse, stemming from international artist residencies – and she is one of the few British artists (alongside Tracey Emin) to have her work selected for New York Brooklyn Museum’s digital EASCFA archive. ‘Whilst Gorrill is better known for her more controversial works, some of her newer explorations into urbanism and our animal worlds are stand out’. In paint, Gorrill’s work is large-scale and fluid, ink pigments colliding with each other and giving the illusion or urbanism and spray paint depicting humans and animals, dissecting British prejudices or obsessions. In collage, her work often reappropriates and revives art historical subject matter through paint; and imagery taken from popular culture, Instagram and adult magazines.