Helena Babic is an illustrator and mixed-media artist from Melbourne, Australia. She is launching a group exhibition this evening at Brunswick Arts art gallery. Titled Occulta, the exhibition showcases the work of four contemporary Melbourne Artists – joining Helena are Emily N3ver, Pia Mitchell, and Marcela Olea. Working across varying media, the artists explore themes of darkness, rebellion, taboo, sensuality, and the rejection of religious authority; from graphic arts and tattoo design, to the cherished art of portraiture.
Opening Nights of exhibitions can be wonderful experiences – interesting art and a mingle of interesting people, and the culmination of a huge creative undertaking. Helena explains, “We have worked very hard and it’s going to be a big sense of achievement seeing it all finally up and ready for the public to view. Although the general theme of the exhibition is quite dark, I don’t think you necessarily have to be interested in that type of artwork to be able to appreciate it. There will be a mixture of different mediums, and styles, some serious, some almost humorous. At the end of the day, each piece is us revealing a part of our personalities for everyone to see and judge, we hope that everyone is able to get something wonderful out of it.”
Dahlia mixed media doll by Helena Babic.
The artists are all friends and have served together in the trenches of retail. “Emily, Pia, Marcela and I all used to work at an art store together a few years ago, so it’s nice to be reunited with these lovely ladies. We all bonded during that time, and it was great to be around such inspiring, beautiful, caring and talented women.There is a broad range of styles being exhibited in Occulta, ranging from Sculpure to Digital Art. Emily originally contacted me with her idea for Occulta, and I was extremely excited to be a part of it. I am the most familiar with her work as she is constantly slaving away and updating her Facebook page and Instagram with all her delightfully dark drawings. She would definitely not be out of place working as a Tattooist, her Art is very Graphic with beautiful clean lines and her wicked sense of humour shows throughout.”
Helena herself is exhibiting a range of work, including one of a kind beautiful and slightly grotesque dolls. “I will be showing a series of drawings and dolls that I have been working tirelessly on over the past few months. [The dolls are] …something that I am going to focus a lot on in the future. I have named them the Rogue Hearts – they are the black sheep, the misfits, the not quite right loveable scallywags. I love using recycled materials from second hand shops, and other items that I find or are donated to me. I find the dolls really trigger a sense of nostalgia … they remind me of my childhood, but they are definitely not created for children. They are for us big kids at heart. I have experienced so much joy sewing these pieces. They are not planned, I usually begin with the basic shape, and then I just start looking through my various materials and oddities until I form an idea. Each one is one of a kind and will not be re-created. My favourite of this series is the Mala Brokenheart (Mala meaning “little girl” in Serbian); having experienced a great loss recently, I put a lot of that emotion into her, and was a very cathartic experience.”
Mala Brokenheart mixed media doll by Helena Babic
Helena has interpreted the theme of the exhibition in a number of different ways. “Occult meaning “knowledge of the hidden, or knowledge of the paranormal” can be interpreted in many ways, so I don’t think it is a strict theme! Personally I have tried to portray some things that are considered “taboo” or not commonly talked about. One being depression and societies pressure on males to “man up” and not show their emotion, or reach out for help. This is particularly apparent in my piece Boys Don’t Cry which I believe is my best work to date … Portraits have been a fairly new thing for me. I used to believe I wasn’t skilled enough to capture people in the way I wanted to. Lately however, I feel that by working hard on it, I’ve managed to break through that which held me back, and now I really would love to create portraits of all the people that mean a lot to me, or have influenced my life in a big way. It has been hit and miss, some I think I’ve really shown the person as I see them, and others could afford to be revisited or re created. It’s all a massive learning curve, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I usually begin by getting the general shape of the persons face and features down onto the page, then I pick a point and just work in a sort of spiral outwards. This approach helps to keep things in proportion as I don’t use a grid or anything to get the proportions exact, this is why sometimes they don’t look exactly like the person, but photo realism isn’t really what I am setting out to achieve, it’s more an emotion that I’m trying to capture.”
Boys Don’t Cry illustration by Helena Babic
While the exhibition has a shadowy and even profane theme, Helena looks for beauty in the darkness. “I try to vary subject matter however my heart loves creating something that is beautiful, but has a melancholic feel throughout, a sense of nostalgia, and even heart ache. There is a certain darkness that ebbs and flows behind all of my work in some way. I love to draw animals as I believe they are the purest life forms on this Earth. I am very passionate about their welfare and have donated a lot of the proceeds from my work to various Animal Welfare charities.[These are] all just little pieces of my personality up on display, and it is my honour to show you all the things that I am passionate about including beauty in humans and animals, embracing darkness and the emotion that comes with it, the fact that nobody is perfect and that we are all in this together. I hope that these pieces will make people feel something; it is all I can hope for.”
OCCULTA – Emily N3ver, Helena Babic, Pia Mitchell, Marcela Olea
Opening: Friday 14th August 6-9pm
Exhibition 15th-30th August, Thu-Fri 2-6pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm.
2a Little Breese st, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3056
Find Helena Babic online at: