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Interview with Helena Cardow - #IWD2020

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

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Helena Cardow is a London-based artist with a diverse creative practice including collage, photography, oil painting and graphic design. Thematically, her art is concerned with the depiction of bodies in spaces which are actively created by a partial eye, and how these compositions and biases affect the meaning of the overall image. She is also heavily influenced by her academic background, delving into sociological topics such as the intersectional relationships between conceptions of race, feminism, gender and sexuality - revealing subjects whilst simultaneously encouraging the viewer to question the power dynamics inherent in the act of ‘looking’.

We asked Helena about the themes she explores in her work and whether she sees gender as an influencing factor.

Of course! My background in Sociology has taught me that everything is influenced - knowingly or unknowingly - by one's lived experience in society. You see things from where you stand. Looking at it intersectionally; as a cisgender female artist of mixed heritage, my way of thinking is influenced by my unique experience in the world, and so my work is influenced - whether I know it or not.

I feel a natural affinity for exploring issues of gender and sexuality in my work, in part influenced by my previous studies in Sociology. I am interested in how women are portrayed in art, why women are portrayed in art, and how the artist behind said portrayal influences the work. My work often features women who I feel I haven't seen much of in the canon of Western Art History, it is my way of including narratives and faces who have been marginalised by the mainstream institution of Art.

Do you think you have faced barriers as a female artist that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

I think the barriers are the same as those I encounter in my daily life of being a mixed-race woman in today's society; my occupation may change but my struggles are the same.

Who do you think is making important contributions to conversations around gender?

Yes! Florence Given is a great illustrator and activist who shares insightful content on Instagram.

What does International Women´s Day mean to you?

It means being seen. I celebrate it every day!

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