Helen Bradley is known today as one of the greatest story tellers of the 20th Century, with her intricate narrative paintings that evoke an idyllic Edwardian age. Bradley was born November 1900 in Lees, near Oldham, Lancashire and although she was always interested in art throughout her life, it was not until Bradley was in her sixties and her grandchildren began asking what life was like when she was a child that she began to paint.
Bradley’s paintings tend to feature the same recognisable characters, with her early works typically depicting Helen herself along with George, her younger brother, their mother, her three maiden aunts, the eligible bachelor Mr. Taylor, the Bank manager and their family fried Miss Carter-who wore pink. These early works tell tales of holidays to Blackpool, walking in Salford’s Peel Park or other leisurely activities such as shopping in Oldham.
These Narrative paintings were first exhibited at The Saddleworth Art Society in 1965, followed by a London Exhibition in 1966 and a sell-out exhibition at the appropriately named Carter Gallery in Los Angeles in 1968. From thence onwards, Bradley achieved international celebrity.
Notably, whilst in London, Bradley met L.S Lowry who encouraged Bradley to draw from her personal experiences and childhood, expressing her memories in a somewhat naïve painterly style. As a result, her two dimensional scenes that are richly coloured with a somewhat decorative appearance are perfectly suited to their narrative function