<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Sussex Life today click here

Artist Helen Wells and her Victorian home in Hastings

PUBLISHED: 16:18 18 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:19 18 April 2016

Helen Wells at home her home in Nelson Road Hastings

Helen Wells at home her home in Nelson Road Hastings

Jim Holden www.jimholden.co.uk 07590 683036 01825 841157

Artist Helen Wells and her husband Mark moved to Hastings from London just eight months ago. They have certainly put their stamp on their five-storey Victorian home, finds Nione Meakin

Against a grey Hastings day, Helen Wells stands out like a buoy on the ocean as she greets me from the doorstep of her West Hill home. Her hair is red, her coat is orange, and her shoes, like her lipstick, are pink. I doubt she has toyed with a tin of magnolia emulsion in her life, a suspicion that’s confirmed as we step inside.

Colour is everywhere, from the yellow velvet armchairs in the sitting room to the rows of cookbooks arranged in rainbow order in the kitchen. Coffee arrives in an ornate, multi-coloured cup, accompanied by Tunnock’s teacakes chosen mainly for their glorious silver and red foil wrapping. On the sideboard, vases of cheerful tulips and daffodils defy the wintry wind whipping around the house. It’s obvious this is a house that belongs to someone creative before one even reaches the attic studios where Helen, 40, paints her dreamy, colour-saturated abstract watercolours.

She and her husband Mark, 43, an online drum retailer, moved into the five-storey Victorian terrace just eight months ago after being wowed by its size and the panoramic views afforded by its hillside location. Helen points out the deliberate lack of curtains on any of the windows: “After living most of our lives in London, we can’t get enough of seeing the sky and stars.”

www.jimholden.co.uk www.jimholden.co.uk

They moved to Hastings on a whim initially, attracted by the lifestyle and space they would never have had in the capital. As the couple both work from home, they wanted room for offices; “Now we have a whole floor each,” laughs Helen, who gets the morning light in her studio at the front of the house and decamps to the adjacent room to make the most of the afternoon rays. Her studio was one of the first areas plotted out when they moved in: “I wanted it to be cosy but simple, without too many distractions.” Her desks are both vintage finds, while a glass-fronted cabinet and stylish padded swivel chair were picked up from Gumtree: “I’m a bit of a collector – another reason I love Hastings. I can’t count the number of bargains I’ve discovered in antique and junk shops here.” Swathes of her paintings are fanned across a floor, on their way to buyers who have come across her work online and in restaurants and galleries. “The move to the seaside has had a noticeable impact on my work, I think. I often start the day walking on the beach looking for interesting patterns, textures and lines and to me, that’s really coming out in my painting.”

A row of zebra ornaments marches across a shelf, one of several collections dotted throughout the house. Metal elephants on a landing window ledge were picked up on trips to Rajasthan, northern India, a row of framed and pinned paper butterflies nod to the house’s 19th century heritage and in the sitting room, shelves flanking the fireplace are filled with arrangements of mottled glaze ceramics in delicate hues. Sussex Life’s photographer comments on the vast array of vintage mirrors on the walls – Helen last counted 25 but she admits she can’t resist when she spots another find in a local junk shop. “Victorian houses can be rather dingy and they’re brilliant for bouncing light everywhere,” she explains. “I promise it’s about the effect they give rather than extreme vanity!”

The couple were fortunate in not needing to make any structural changes to the property when they moved in, although several Artex ceilings had to be stripped out and every room and corridor repainted. Despite initial impressions, it transpires that Helen is not a complete stranger to magnolia. In fact there are off-white walls in almost every room (the third floor loo is painted a deep indigo), which only serve to highlight the vivid furnishings. “The combination of shocking pink and saffron yellow makes me really happy,” smiles Helen when I comment on what appears to be a motif throughout her home. “I think it comes from my trips to Rajasthan. I was so enchanted by the colour in India. It inspired me to use colour more in my work and at home.”

www.jimholden.co.uk www.jimholden.co.uk

Although there is still some work to be done – she fancies painting the living room floorboards a deep shiny blue – it’s striking how quickly the couple have made a home in Hastings. “It was the best move we ever made,” says Helen. “This feels so much the place we were meant to be. Walks on the beach, live music, friendly people…it’s got it all. There’s no way we’ll ever return to London.”

www.helenwellsartist.co.uk

READ ON

Helen Simonson and her new book ‘The Summer Before the War’ - In her first novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson created characters and a milieu that captivated her readers. Her new book is a domestic epic that charts the path to war from the perspective of an extended Rye family. She spoke to Jenny Mark-Bell

Caroline Lucas on what she loves most about Sussex - Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, made history when she entered the House of Commons as the UK’s first Green MP in 2010. Here she tells Amanda Riley-Jones what she loves about Sussex and the unique city she’s proud to call home. Photo by Jim Holden

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sussex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sussex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sussex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Homes & Gardens

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sussex’s highest town has a chequered past but a busy community life as Duncan Hall discovers

Read more
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Award-winning interior designer Clare Pascoe takes inspiration from classic 20th century designs and Nordic simplicity. Duncan Hall visits her at home

Read more
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The West Sussex town offers a village experience in the heart of the downs, as Duncan Hall finds out

Read more
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Earlier this year Castle Goring opened its doors for weddings. As owner Lady Colin Campbell launched a competition to win a dream wedding Duncan Hall is taken on a tour

Read more
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Duncan Hall investigates the East Sussex town being transformed by a growing influx of artists

Read more
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Situated at the midpoint of the South Downs Way Storrington is a hidden gem of a village packed with history, as Duncan Hall discovers

Read more
Monday, July 10, 2017

Ceramic artist Kay Aplin has turned her Brighton home into an exhibition space. Duncan Hall is careful not to touch anything

Read more
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Liam Russell Architects is a multi-award-winning practice based in Brighton, working in London and throughout the UK and Internationally. The practice is currently engaged on major regeneration projects in London and the regions, including bespoke commissions for a range of clients.

Read more
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bognor is a seaside town worthy of reinvestigation as Duncan Hall finds out

Read more
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Nestled on the edge of commuter town Haywards Heath and within easy reach of the High Weald, Lindfield is an historic haven, as Duncan Hall discovers

Read more
Monday, June 12, 2017

Bovine portraitist Veronica van Eijk is exploring new worlds this summer in her Hailsham studio, as Duncan Hall discovers

Read more
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Last year Seaford was one of the UK’s top five towns for house price growth. Duncan Hall finds out why

Read more

Ad Feature: Upcyling in Sussex

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Sussex Upcycling offers an interesting and eclectic mix of antique, vintage, retro, upcycled, repurposed and brocante which can be purchased from their shop based in Worthing town centre.

Read more
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Time to update your shower? Mags Hollings, Manager and Designer at Ripples in Brighton offers her advice

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
Sussex Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Sussex's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search