Helen Teede is a painter born and brought up in Zimbabwe, where she currently lives. Using the landscape around her as a point of departure, her work is an exploration of the ways in which the earth's surface can act as a teller of stories and symptom of circumstance.
As a white Zimbabwean, Teede is deeply and painfully conscious of the conflicted history of race relations in the country, which still has not arrived at reconciliation and integration. Yet, Africa and Zimbabwe is the only home that she has ever known and Zimbabwe is the land that she loves deeply and without reservation. In her practice as an artist, Teede takes her love for the land, a defining Zimbabwean characteristic across race lines, as the starting point from which to build a vision of a Zimbabwe which can be shared unequivocally. Her working process begins from the ground up, literally – going on extensive hiking and camping expeditions, involving archeological digs, embedding her work in the land and its history before and within its trauma. Her landscape based canvases build narratives of these journeys, which are both poetic and aspirational. Conversely her sculptures incorporating rocks, fossils, and bones ground us in a consciousness of the mortality and brevity of life.
Faced with the prospect of leaving the place in which she grew up, her current work considers the interdependence of land and ownership, and the innate bond between people and the places they live. She explores the bond between identity and home and the psychological impact endured when this bond is severed, when a place once intimate and familiar becomes an uncanny site of melancholia, nostalgia and fear. Her work is deeply personal, but also speaks to a wider discourse of loss, dislocation and racial identity both in Zimbabwe and in the world today.