“Des Helmore’s unique view of the world has been fine-tuned by a previous life as an entomological illustrator. Away from the microscope he has adjusted his scale and focused an observant eye on the overlooked corners of the urban landscape, celebrating the odd and unexpected. His spare and economical compositions suggest frames from a comic strip, and that the mystery of what’s really going on might be revealed in the next one – if only it existed. Helmore reduces elements to their bare essentials and creates a strange unease, while there’s also the suggestion of a sly humour at work. He does offer the occasional clue, such as a section of signage, although never enough to explain the situation. And while he favours dark outlines, somewhat in the style of Hergés Tintin, the muted areas in between aren’t as flat as they appear, but enlivened by his own brand of pointillism. The cumulative effect is a feeling that something’s about to happen – and it could be just around the corner”. -Richard Wolfe. 2005
Born in 1940, Takapau, Hawke’s Bay, NZ. Helmore attended the Ilam School of Fine Arts, Christchurch, from 1959 – 1962, graduating with a Diploma in Fine Arts in Honours. In 1965 he entered the Manawatu Contemporary Art Competition held at Manawatu Art Gallery, Palmerston North and received a Merit Award. His first solo exhibition was held at the Hawke’s Bay Art Gallery, Napier, and was followed by a solo show at the Manawatu Art Gallery in 1966.
Between 1966-1969 he lived in London where he worked as a geographical illustrator at the University College, London. During this time in London, he had a solo show at BH Corner Gallery. He returned to New Zealand in 1970 working as an entomological illustrator at the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch before working as a graphic artist for NZBC Television.
In 1975 he moved to Auckland and worked as an entomological illustrator for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) and also part time for Landcare Research. In 1982 he contributed, “Drawings of New Zealand Insects” to Bulletin Number 8 of the Entomological Society of New Zealand. Described as “A collection of 22 drawings of New Zealand insects by Des Helmore, one of New Zealand’s most talented biological artists.” Helmore’s drawings have illustrated many scientific papers and publications over the years. Sir Charles Fleming FRS wrote, “Des Helmore’s drawings supply the need for pictures of entire insects felt by many New Zealand amateurs and inter-disciplinary students, to an artistic standard few can hope to emulate”
His work is represented in the following public collections: Christchurch Public Art Gallery, Hocken Library, University of Otago, University of Canterbury, Canterbury Public Library, Canterbury Society of Arts, Hawke’s Bay Art Gallery & Museum, Napier, The James Wallace Trust Collection.