Featured Artist Helen Tyrrell

Featured artist Helen Tyrell’s body of work expresses her fascination with children’s portraiture, and motherhood. See more of her work by visiting her website.


boy on swing


My name is Helen, I am Irish and I have spent the last 17 years living in Belgium. I live in a small Flemish village outside Brussels with my husband, two children and a cat.


"Laragh" a painting of a young girl with her cat by artist Helen Tyrrell


I had been involved in student politics during the 80s and 90s at a time of immense social change. This has informed my thinking and my art.  I have mellowed a bit now, but I think I will always have that rebellious streak, the constant drive to challenge inequalities. I am a die-hard feminist. I shout at the TV a lot, which helps no-one of course, and then I have my painting… I want to engage with people, tell them what I think. If I was a writer, I would have no need to paint. It’s my way of getting my thoughts out.


Sunday Morning


I started out as an architect which is not the traditional route to being an artist, but it’s been a valuable and relevant education. I had always wanted to go to art school, but as the daughter of an engineer this choice was simply refused to me on the grounds that my father did not consider ‘art’ as a proper career path. However, a degree in architecture was an acceptable compromise. I don’t regret this decision. Indeed, the technical skills of learning to represent your ideas in drawings and models, and to view things in an analytical way have stood to me.


Portrait of a young girl


Even though I have been painting for as long as I can remember, I have only recently been able to turn it into a full time occupation. Up until then I had been painting at home, and was limited to odour free materials such as acrylic paints. By 2009 I had become so disillusioned and frustrated with my professional life that I decided I had to take the plunge and follow my dream of being a painter. I rented a shop-front studio in a leafy part of the city and now work and sell my paintings from there. I work in oil now, and there are no limits to the size of canvas I can work on, whereas before, the width of my kitchen determined the size!


"Cerberus" by artist Helen Tyrrell


I have been lucky to have been involved in a number of exhibitions and events which is slowly but surely building up my profile as an artist. It is affirming to have my art recognized and appreciated. I love working in my studio. I enjoy the passers-by who stop in to chat with me. I have recently partnered with an interior designer who commissions artwork on behalf of her clients. I have also set up an art collective with 4 other Irish artists based in Belgium.


portrait of a child


My recent body of work entitled ‘Childhood is a small room’ draws on my observation of children and the world they inhabit. Motherhood is an emotional and terrifying existence; to literally have your own heart in another’s body, and there is literally nothing you would not do for your child.


Portrait of children at a party


However, when I started painting children, it was not with any sentimental motivation, but from an objective almost anthropological point of view. Children fascinate me; their rules of engagement and social interaction are intriguing. Their vulnerability is terrifying. Their beauty is absolute. And their presence with us (parents) is fleeting.


Portrait of a woman reading




  1. Absolutely stunning. You capture the vulnerability and the softness of children while showing their intelligence as well. Just lovely.

  2. Such beautiful paintings. You’ve really captured the spontaneity and range of emotions that children exhibit. Very inspiring.

  3. Thank you Jessica and Sue! It’s very affirming to read your great feedback

Speak Your Mind