Self taught artist Western Australian, Helen Norton spent many years working in the remote outback in unusual occupations, before settling in Broome WA to concentrate on developing her very distinctive narrative style. Norton’s work is ascetically seductive and constantly reaching into or making new mythology about life. Having earned a reputation as a storyteller, her work usually contains deeper layers of query into the human condition. Norton has been exhibiting for 26 years, and is represented in collections nationally and internationally, with over 50 solo exhibitions in Australia and overseas.
Born in 1961, St Kilda, Victoria. MA of Analytical (Depth) Psych. Helen Norton left home at sixteen to spend the next ten years working and living in the most remote desert locations in Australia. Not intending on becoming an artist, her ambitions focused on immersing herself in as much adventure as was possible to extract from life. Settling in Broome in the North West led to a void in adventures so she took up the paintbrush to create a continuing invention of adventures on the canvas.
Norton continued her travels throughout the Kimberley, Pilbara and overseas. She used the experiences to inject her artwork with more complex layers of narrative. Her work gained acclaim quickly, and led to commissions from Qantas to paint two front covers for their in-flight magazines, an exhibition on the QE2, and exhibitions in London as well as successful exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney. She currently lives in Perth WA.
Narration is the backbone of Helen Norton’s work. Her art thrives on a theme – whether it is the ancient story of Gilgamesh – a Sumerian king from five thousand years ago, an aboriginal queen of the Australian desert or an imaginative portrayal of living in a city today and all the contemporary issues of modern life; her intent is on capturing, communicating and exploring the narrative through bold, imaginative paintings.
She loves the tools of illusion, of being part of the scene and surrounding the viewer with an imagined reality – a ‘what if’ proposal. She uses the past as a mirror on to the present, not simply as a personal interpretation of the past but to invite reflection. Her use of colour, scale and composition emphasize the narrative context and give a sense of the materiality – and poignancy – to the physical world. Norton uses the genre on a grand scale, presenting the viewer with life as if it is a monumental event, while paying equal attention to identifying the smallest parts of our existence.
Her narrative paintings expose our current choices and cultural contributions. Since the earliest paintings and etchings in rock, people have loved to tell stories. Helen Norton is without a doubt a consummate master of contemporary narrative art in Australia.
2016 On recent abstract works and a distinct change of style;
I suppose it may just be a stage of life, but I find myself more and more drawn to simple compositions of colour and form. My goal is to create works that just make one feel good, not unlike when you pat an animal. I believe artists should paint from the heart even if that means making a 180 degree turn on their former work at some point. After all – being creative – is about creating something new right? How can you be creative if you paint the same old stuff for 40 years? Where I once sought to amplify the complexity of life in my work, I now desire a sensual simplicity. So many artists may state that they have painted ‘from the heart’ all of their lives, but for me that is nonsense. We all paint and live from our ego when younger. There comes a point, artist or not where you don’t give a dam about that anymore. The world will always be full of problems so I choose to laugh and make delicious painting pies.
Helen Norton March 2016
2017 JahRoc Galleries, Margaret River, Living With The River
2015 Trevor Victor Harvey Gallery, Mosman, World Affair
2015 Linton and Kay Gallery, Perth, War
2013 Linton and Kay Gallery, Perth, 2013 New Works
2013 Zig Zag Cultural Centre, Kalamunda, Ulysses Eye
2012 Linton and Kay Gallery, Perth City, Prosperity
2011 Libby Edwards Melbourne November
2011 Opera Arte – Solo Exhibition for Opera Under the Stars, Broome WA
2011 Norton Gallery – Opening South Fremantle WA
2010 Monsoon Gallery Broome 5 August,
2010 Trevor Victor Harvey Gallery, Sydney (mid year),
2010 Linton Kay Gallery, Perth November
2009 Linton Kay Gallery, Perth Divine Road
2009 Trevor Victor Harvey Gallery, Sydney (March)
2008 Linton Kay Gallery, Perth Now and Then
2008 Monsoon Gallery, Broome
2007 Fremantle Yacht Club – continuation of South
2007 Yallingup Galleries WA – South
2006 Cockatoo Gallery Broome, Obon – The Soul of Broome, Sept, 30 new works.
2005 Cockatoo Gallery Studio, Fremantle, Extension of Courage to Love Sept, 34 new works added
2005 Michael Commerford Gallery, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. Courage to Love, March
2004 Opening of Cockatoo Gallery Fremantle (Artists own gallery)
2003 Michael Commerford Gallery, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. The Red Seahorse
2003 Greenhill Galleries, Perth, WA.
2002 56 Major works in The Angels Heart and the Snake, Barry Stern Gallery, Paddington, NSW.
2001 70 Major works in Looking for Gods, with Telethon in Perth, Highett Regency.
2001 Preview of Looking for Gods, Port Vila, Vanuatu.
2000 Bye Bye Sunfly and the Auditor in Loophole Land, Sydney, The Rocks.
1999 The Second Test, The Windsor Hotel, Melbourne.
1998 Margaret River Gallery, Margaret River, WA.
1998 Greenhill Gallery, Adelaide.
1998 The Windsor Hotel, Melbourne.
1998 New Collectables Gallery, East Fremantle.
1998 Monsoon Gallery, Broome, Western Australia.
1998 Margaret River Gallery, WA.
1998 LLewellyn Alexander Gallery, Waterloo, London, UK.
1997 Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney.
1997 Pastoralists and Graziers Association Conference, Cable Beach Club, Broome.
1997 On board QE2, guest artist sailing with cruise related works from Sydney to Darwin.
1996 Mad Cows, Framed Gallery, Darwin.
1995 New Collectables, East Fremantle, WA.
1995 Arthouse, Paddington, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, NSW.
1995 Recent works, Durack Gallery, Broome WA.
1994 Arthouse, Paddington, Sydney.
1994 Wings and Wire, Royal Flying Doctors, Cable Beach Club, Broome, WA.
1993 Heroes, New Collectables Gallery, Fremantle, WA.
1993 Reflections of the Kimberley, Derby (Changing faces of the Kimberley) WA.
1992 Kimberley Fine Diamonds, WA.
1992 Beasts and Beauties, Framed Art Gallery, Darwin, NT.
1992 Kimberley Kreations Gallery, Broome, WA.
1991 Kimberley Kreations Gallery, Broome, WA.
1991 Royal Fly Doc, Perth Mint 60 works (Pidgeon series), WA.
1990 Kimberley Kreations Gallery, Broome, WA.
1988 Broome Regional Art Gallery, WA.
Selected Group and Joint Exhibitions: (not updated)
2000 The Art of Saving Lives (Youth Suicide), Sothebys, Armadale, VIC.
1999 Guide Dogs for the Blind, Perth, WA.
1999 Art Extrordinare, Bunbury.
1998 Not the Royal Academy Exhibition, Llewellyn Alexander Gallery, London, UK.
1997 New Collectables, East Fremantle, WA.
1997 Libby Edwards Gallery, Melbourne, VIC.
1997 Cummerford Gallery, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, NSW.
1996 Arthritis Foundation of WA, Wyllie Arthritis Centre, Shenton Park, WA.
1996 The Rotary Arts Foundation Exhibition, Civic Centre, Port Hedland, WA.
1996 Mandorla Art Awards, The Moores Building, Fremantle, WA.
1996 Brunswick Agricultural Society Inc, Brunswick, WA.
1996 Hale Art Exhibition, Hale School, Wembley Downs, WA.
1996 The Michael Commerford Gallery, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, NSW.
1996 New Collectables Gallery, East Fremantle, WA (FAB, Group Exhibition, Breast Cancer).
1996 New Collectables Gallery, East Fremantle, WA.
1996 Durack Gallery, Broome, WA (Fringe Arts Festival).
1995 Putting Ourselves in the Picture, Durack Gallery, Broome, WA.
1995 Ebb and Flow of the Kimberley, Monsoon Gallery, Broome, WA.
1994 Women of The West Exhibition, Sydney, NSW.
1994 Women’s Suffrage Centenary Exhibition, Adelaide Central Gallery.
1994 Vail, Colorado, USA.
1994 Opened artist’s studio/ gallery in Mc Daniel rd Broome, WA.
1994 Port Hedland Tourist Commission, (Heritage Week Exhibition), WA.
1994 New Etchings and Collographs, Arthouse, Paddington, Sydney, NSW.
1994 New Etchings and Collographs, Monsoon Gallery, Broome, WA.
1994 Arthritis Foundation of WA, Perth, WA.
1994 New Etchings and Collographs, New Collectables Gallery, Fremantle, WA.
1994 New Etchings and Collographs, Kimberley Kreations, WA.
1994 Greythorn Gallery, Toorak, VIC.
1993 Durack Gallery, Broome (Mango Festival), WA.
1993 SECWA Fremantle City Council Art Award, Fremantle, WA.
1993 Kimberley Kreations 5th Birthday Exhibition, Broome, WA.
1993 Postcards from Paradise, Shekki Shed Gallery, Broome, WA.
1993 L, Amour Fou, Shekki Shed Gallery, Broome, WA.
1992 Arthritis Foundation of WA, Perth, WA.
1992 Scotts College, Adelaide Arts Festival, SA.
1991 The Professions, Bay Gallery, Perth, WA.
1990 Bay Gallery, Perth, WA.
1990 42 Weld St. Gallery, WA.
1989 Broome Regional Art Gallery, WA.
No longer entering awards after 2000
1999 Brunswick Agricultural Society, Sponsors choice/Hero.
1996 Brunswick Agricultural Society, 1st Prize Westraliana/ Animals Study.
1996 Kimberley Art Prize, Derby, Highly commended, Printmaking.
1995 Kimberley Art Prize, Derby, 1st Prize Printmaking.
1993 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, 1st Prize Oil/Acrylic.
1992 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, 1st Prize Watercolour.
1992 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, Overall Major Aquisitive Award.
1992 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, 1st Prize Sculpture.
1991 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, Phyllis Knox Memorial Award.
1991 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, Literature Award.
1991 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, 1st Prize Oil/Acrylic
1991 Rotary National Art Prize, Pt Hedland, Peoples Choice.
1991 Rotary National Art Prize, Pt Hedland, 1st Prize Acrylic.
1991 Bay Gallery Professions Art Prize, 1st Prize in Section.
1990 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, 1st Prize Portrait.
1990 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, 1st Prize Acrylic.
1990 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, 1st Prize Oil.
1990 Rotary National Art Prize, Pt Hedland, People’s Choice.
1990 Rotary National Art Prize, Pt Hedland, Major Award, Aquis to Parliament House.
1990 Rotary National Art Prize, Pt Hedland, Major Award, Aquis Mt Newman Mining.
1990 Kimberley Art Prize, Derby, 1st Prize Watercolour.
1989 Rotary National Art Prize, Pt Hedland, Highly Commended.
1988 Rotary National Art Prize, Pt Hedland, Best Local Work.
1988 Shinju Matsuri Award, Broome, Encouragement Award.
1988 Kimberley Art Prize, Derby, 1st Prize Oil.
2005 Insite magazine – (winter) What Lies Beneath, Sarah Szabo.
2002 Front covers Pinnacles Tours – All tour guides.
2002 Wentworth Courier.
2002 Sydney Morning Herald.
2001 J S Battye Library of West Aust History – Published by H Norton – Revolution is Slow.
2001 J S Battye Library of West Aust History – Published by H Norton -The Angel and the Butterfly Man.
2001 Weekend Magazine, Perth.
2001 Sunday Times, Perth.
2001 Trading Post, Vanuatu.
2000 Homes and Living.
2000 Magazine – Andrea Horwood.
2000 Artists Chronicle.
1999 Sunday Herald Sun, October 10, The Penguin, Graham Pearce, Colourful Saviours.
1999 State of the Arts, May-August, Texture of my World, Helen Norton, Jane Sloane.
1999 London Artists and Illustrators, magazine, January, The Royal Subject, Kate Nicolas.
1998 Sunday Times, December 27, Life Arts, Brush with reality, Sam Hardcastle.
1998 The West Magazine, December 26, West Coast Arts, Sarah Palmer, Paintings.
1998 The West Australian, December 18, artstoday, Galleries.
1998 AMR Mail, December 16, Entertainment, Norton´s report on view at Margaret River Art Gallery.
1998 Herald Sun, October 5, Arts & Entertainment, Report card rates Norton, Tracey Joynson.
1998 Sunday Herald Sun, October 11,The Penguin, Graham Pearce, Brush with Marriage.
1998 Broome Advertiser, August 26, Art Reflects Broome´s Simplicity, Monsoon Gallery Exhibition.
1998 London OK magazine, January 1998 Helen Norton.
1996 Qantas In-flight Magazine front cover Dec 1996 (The Birthday Piano).
1996 Qantas Club Mag front cover, Nov 1996 (The Captain´s Table).
1996 NT News, August, Mad Cows.
1996 Broome Advertiser, August, Moving Art, Kath Bothwick.
1996 Front cover NOVA magazine, Perth. Image – Trust me.
1996 Broome Tourist Bureau, Discover Broome booklet and map, front covers.
1996 McCafferty’s Travel time mag, front cover, Cooking Catch, article The Wild Kimberley.
1995 West Australian, Nov 18, review Once Upon A time There was a Man, David Bromfield.
1995 Australian Short Stories, Dec, Front Cover Image – Nude With Dog.
1995 Western Review, Nov, Front Cover Image. Newsman.
1995 Australian Style, Nov, Outward Bound, Steve Bunk.
1995 Australian Country Style, Nov, State of the Arts, Vera Klein.
1995 Broome Advertiser, July, Durack Exhibition.
1994 State of the Art, Sept-Dec, New Broome.
1994 West Australian, April 25, Artist Finds Fame Painting Outback, Grahame Armstrong.
1994 Local Colour, Bill Bachman and Tim Winton Blood FromStone.
1994 The Bulletin, Sept 6. Charles Boag, 1 page ´Arts´ Appearances Deceive.
1994 Broome Advertiser, Doctor (RFDS) to benefit from local artists exhibition, Maria Mann.
1994 Summer Shorts, Peter and Barbara Holland, Fremantle Art Press, The Other Woman.
1993 Summer shorts, Peter Holland, Fremantle Arts Press, Introduced Species.
1993 Australian Short Stories, Pascoe Publishing, Cover Image – HMS Pioneer.
1993 The West Australian, 11 Dec, Tongue in Cheek Look at Bush Myths, David Bromfield.
1993 Fremantle Arts, November, Norton’s Heroes, by Jonathan Smith.
1993 Arts Unlimited, November, Who is the hero? By Linda Hodgetts.
1993 Australia Style, December, The Big Picture, by Steve Bunk, 9 page article on artist.
1993 HQ Magazine, Brushes with Women, Bruce Pascoe.
1992 W. A Style, Soul Trading by Renita Glencross, 4 page article on artist.
1992 West Australian, Aug 15, On Show, David Bromfield.
1992 Northern Territory News, April 25, Artist Brings Bush To Life, Marney White.
1992 North West Telegraph, Sept, Exhibition recalls issues of early contact period.
1991 North West Telegraph, Dec, Local Artists Work Discovered, Maria Mann
1991 North West Telegraph, Sept, Renowned Artist Holds Exhibition.
1991 Artists Chronicle, December, Paintings and Pearls of Kimberley, Lyn DiCiero.
Paspaley Pearling Co Pty Ltd
McDonalds – Indooripilly Qld
Broome Shire Regional Council
West Australian Parliament House
Austrian Consulate General
Property Bank Australia
Hong Kong Bank of Australia
Lands Department Perth