Three contemporary artists, their works united by form, line, and a deep connection to landscape, are to be shown in a group exhibition on floor 1. All of the artists document lived experience, natural cycles of death and rebirth recur in the works. 

The gallery is delighted to announce that we will for the first time be showing work from celebrated British abstract artist Helen Booth, whose latest oil paintings are the result of a recent residency in Iceland and depart from the mark mapping typical in her practice. The pre-Columbian pottery style of British-born artist Nicholas Arroyave-Portela derives from his Latin American roots; using materials from the earth, the artist has produced an incredible body of work over the past two decades informed by his experience of migration. Printmaker Emily Crookshank, who explores line and form with a tonally minimal palette and who, since relocating to Scotland has mastered the craft of etching, and in the process discovered the limitless nature of printmaking.


Unifying all of the artists’ works is the influence of nature, and the use of natural materials to create original art forms that allude to heritage, the passing of time, place, and connection through being. 


Showing 07 - 31 August 2021 | Floor 1

For further information, please enquire below or email lucy@circlecontemporary.co.uk

Installation Views
Press release

Helen Booth


We are excited to be collaborating with Helen Booth for the first time. Born in Staffordshire, Helen studied Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon School of Art (1986- 1989) under the tutelage of Bernard Cohen, George Blacklock and Prunella Clough- the late abstract artist whose cartography experience during the Second World War was the source of artistic mark-mapping seen in her work.


Like her co-artists, the cycle of birth and rebirth is key to Helen’s practice. During a recent Residency at Skaftafell Glacier in Iceland, Helen found herself standing in what she says can only be described as a ‘divine’ landscape, reinforcing her belief that nature is the most potent force, and trying to capture its pure essence is what drives her. Reflecting on her time there, Booth recalls, “I remember walking through one metre deep snow - the sound of my heavy body making a repetitive dull hum that was swallowed immediately by the quiet. Everywhere was white - I was surrounded by the most sublime vista. I couldn't quite grasp what I was feeling. It felt like every atom was vibrating at the same frequency. I turned a corner and there she lay - Nature in all her divine glory - laid bare, menacing, beautiful and deadly present.”


Helen’s connection to nature is reflected in the oil paintings on exhibit. The limitless variations of the single dot that often follows disjointed lines are reminiscent of her mentor, Prunella Clough, whose work was influenced by her experience as a cartographer during World War II. Helen experiments through an impulsive and repetitive way of meditative mark-making. She paints with oil; balancing action and inaction, each layer forcing a pause throughout her process that involves pouring and dragging a minimal paint palette across the surface. Helen alchemic approach to painting is influenced by celebrated abstract painters, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, whose work so vividly captured the human condition.


Helen Booth has exhibited at galleries throughout the UK and her work is held in private collections around the world. In 2019, Booth received the Pollock Krasner Award and was the recipient of an International Abstract Painting Award from the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation in the US.



Nicholas Arroyave-Portela


When pain is the root of creativity, to know a little of the back story which has so heavily informed the ceramic art of Nicholas Arroyave-Portela provides a deeper understanding of his craft. Born in Oxford to Latin American parents and Spanish grandparents who fled Franco’s war-torn Spain for Columbia means a preoccupation with identity underpins his practice. After the premature death of his father when he was just 15, Nicholas found himself in emotional and geographical exile. The clay vessels are a paean to the memory of both his father and Spanish-Columbian heritage. 


“From a very young age I can remember people always asking me where I was from. It came to be such a loaded question because in that instant I felt rejected by them. At the age of 15 my father died days after receiving a heart transplant operation. It may well have been this loss which compounded a sense of alienation and separation from the traditions, customs, everything in fact that anchored me as an individual to the 'territory' my mother and father had come from and which I had experienced and tasted as a child.”


Viewing Arroyave-Portela’s fragile works, one sees his forms as geological metaphors of earth, wind, water, and time. Primordial folds and chasms ridge, crease and pucker the waves of subtly coloured clay glazes that evoke the graphic rhythms of pre-Columbian pottery. Pertinently, they look and feel precious, like finding a beautiful shell that once contained life. As the late celebrated potter Emannuel Cooper observed: “There is an intriguing element of risk in the bowls and vessel forms of Nicholas Arroyave-Portela; the walls are so lean and minimal, the edges so crisp and precise, the undulating surfaces both controlled and wayward, the contrasting and complementary colours in a constant state of movement, while the delicate bases have a poised strength.”


Nicholas Arroyave-Portela’s works are held in major museums and private collections worldwide, including the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA, and the Mint Museum, NC, USA.




Emily Crookshank


Printmaker Emily Crookshank who spends much of her time in the wild landscapes of Britain. Like notable printmaker, Norman Ackroyd, Emily shares a passion for Scotland, Mull and the Hebrides. Her work elicits the rhythms of the landscape, the drawings and etchings mementos of her engagement with nature.


Emily uses drawing, the most spontaneous form of expression, to precede the disciplined art of the etching process she has mastered so well, conjuring up subtle shades of expression in a series, as is the printmakers norm. Each print is born from the one preceding it and, like footprints in the sand, every one is different.


Emily’s abstract prints from the printing plate are formed of black-inked densities contrasted by an inner light from deep within the land to evoke a feeling of the passage of time.


Since graduating from The Glasgow School of Art in 2011, Emily has exhibited widely across the UK. She was selected for the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in 2016, and as Artist in Residence for Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair in 2018. More recently her work has been shown as part of A Common Place at Eames Fine Art in London, Enter the Abstract, and Abstract Etchings at The Auction Collective.