Growing up in the U.K., Helen Dealtry started her painting career drawing birds alongside her grandfather. “I had a chalkboard, and he would rub out chunks of my drawings and say, ‘that needs work!’” she laughs. Coming from a family of creative people—her feathered-friend-depicting grandfather, carpenter brother, and costume-creating mother among them—she was met with nothing but support when she began an intensive textile, art, and design course at age 16.
Four years and a degree from Winchester School of Art later, she found herself in New York as a trainee textile designer, where her daily work involved hand-painting motifs directly onto silk and stretched organza. “I was surrounded by incredibly talented artists like Lourdes Sanchez,” she recalls. “I’d just want to cover my work every time they walked by my desk!”
But that insecurity was just pure silliness, and, in 2011 after many years of practice and a short stint back in London, Helen had the self-possession to launch Dealtry, a line of ultra-soft patterned scarves drawing inspiration from East Asian brush painting and a bunch of ranunculus scooped up at the Chelsea Flower Market. “Every design I do starts with a hand-painted piece of paper work,” she says. “It’s really important to me to maintain a hand-done feel to my work.” So, things haven’t changed that much—but she has spread her wings. —genevieve ang