Documenting Helen Andersen’s work

I may as well share some images of Helen’s work as I make scans from photographs. The locations of many Helen Andersen paintings remain unknown, so there are some lucky owners out there. I am developing a database of images that will be a bit of a treasure hunt. I hope that people will recognize pieces and get in touch, letting me know where the originals are now.
Title: Sophie. Bill Reid’s Mother as I Imagine Her To Have Looked
Medium: Acrylic

Bill Reid, of course, is the famous Haida carver, probably best known for his monumental bronze Spirit of Haida Gwaii which appears on our Canadian $20 bill. Both Helen and I knew Bill Reid personally and were great admirers of his work.

Going though photos, I was delighted to come across this one (after the Read More…) of Helen and my high school English teacher Harry Locke when they visited Bill Reid’s Vancouver studio. They were seeing Haida Gwaii as a work in progress.


Helen Andersen was influenced and inspired by aboriginal artwork and stories all of her life. Her father was a general practitioner in Saskatchewan and he often received payment for medical services in the form of indigenous peoples’ arts and crafts. Helen was exposed to her father’s large collection as a girl and her appreciation lasted a lifetime. She was proud of the fact that her father, W.E. Anderson, had donated his collection to the public museum. (Not sure which one, but presumably one in Saskatchewan).

5 thoughts on “Documenting Helen Andersen’s work

  1. Well researched!
    This painting was in progress around the time
    your sculpture was presented to the public at a
    large garden party.
    Toni Onley had purchased one of Helen’s paintings
    when he was working on the mural for the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse,
    in Vancouver.

    • I think the painting must have been quite a bit later, Joni. It is dated 1989 and my sculpture debut happened in the 60s. The purchase by Tony Onley is news, though. Thanks for that. We have an Onley lithograph (Pitt River 176/850) on our living room wall.

    • You’re right, Brian. In particular, Helen studied Picasso’s Guernica in considerable depth. She was passionate about the work of many, many other artists and explored styles of all kinds all her life. She went through stages, as most of us do. I remember a long stage when she was very absorbed in the letters of Van Gogh to his brother Theo, for example.

  2. Pingback: Salmo circles | Bill Andersen

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