SCIENCE teacher-turned-artist Helen Costello combines the laws of physics with her love for the East Yorkshire coast in her Whose World Is It? exhibition at Pocklington Arts Centre.

On show in the studio until March 28, Helen's oil and acrylic paintings are inspired by seascapes, landscapes and seabirds, especially those surrounding her home in Sewerby, Bridlington.

"Observation inspires my work, for example watching seabirds soar and bank on the updraft from Bempton, or being aware of the tranquil beauty from the beach," she says.

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Kittiwakes Defending Their Territory, by Helen Costello

As both a retired science teacher and a fine-art graduate, Helen prides herself on putting paid to the idea that scientific knowledge and a love of beauty are not compatible.

"There's a commonly held view that a knowledge of science somehow destroys the beauty. On the contrary, it enhances it. Both start with observation of the natural world. Physics strives to find truth to help understand things and art is a consideration and appreciation of their beauty," she reasons.

Helen, a Leeds University physics graduate, combined her teaching career with studying art part-time, eventually gaining a formal qualification in fine art from Durham University after several years of attending evening classes, weekend and summer schools.

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Sea And Sky, by Helen Costello

She was head of science at a comprehensive school before returning to Durham University to study visual arts, but retained her love of science, using her knowledge as a key creative tool and striving to find the right balance.

"To contemplate the natural world is to restore the soul. The act of painting is therapeutic, switching off the busy rational left side of the brain and releasing the creative right side,” she says.

"Oil paints are translucent, so, in building up the image, the effect of light passing through and reflecting from different layers is important; physics helps me think here. But the art is in distilling a moment of beauty from the visual world."

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Cliff, Sea And Sky, by Helen Costello

Helen hopes those visiting Whose World Is It? will take a moment to contemplate the plight of seabirds. "Every visitor brings their own experience to every artwork," she says.

"Some will respond to a representation of the nature that they love. Others will see and appreciate the atmosphere. Still others will be interested in the various techniques employed. I hope visitors will pause to consider the drastic reduction in seabirds and how this affects our coastal region."

Helen's Pocklington show comes in the wake of her exhibiting at North Yorkshire Open Studios, East Yorkshire Open Studios and Beverley Art Gallery Open Exhibition.

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"To contemplate the natural world is to restore the soul," says artist Helen Costello 

Arts centre director Janet Farmer says: "Helen Costello’s paintings are truly breathtaking, and it is no exaggeration to say that they look absolutely stunning in our studio, bringing the space to life with their colour and light.

"Helen’s work has featured in exhibitions here on two previous occasions, as part of East Yorkshire Open Studios, so it's a real pleasure to welcome her back to the arts centre with such a wonderful collection of work."

Entry to Whose World Is It? is free and restricted to PAC opening hours only. For information on those opening times, visit

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