‘More in things than in people’ – Helen O’Sullivan Tyrrell


Helen O’Sullivan Tyrrell’s latest exhibition is a reflection on our relationship with our belongings and ourselves.

Irish artist and Green Door Gallery owner Helen O’Sullivan Tyrrell originally trained as an architect; it was in Belgium that she returned to her true passion: painting. In February, she opened the latest exhibition of her work, it will be open until 5 March. 

Tyrrell has a long list of accolades. She was selected for the final of the BP Portrait Award 2015. She was among the finalists of the Belfius Art Prize 2014 and the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2014, and again in 2015. Her work has been selected for the Royal Ulster Academy annual exhibitions in 2013, 2017 and 2018. Two of her paintings have been acquired by the Office of Public Works for the Irish State Art Collection.

Artist, with The Child of Prague, oil on panel 42 x 30 cm



“The objects we choose to surround ourselves with speak to our identities and how we curate our memories”

Her latest exhibition entitled “More in things than in people”, is her first solo exhibition at the Green Door Gallery. With this series of small format oil paintings, mostly on wooden panels, the artist contemplates the objects we choose to surround ourselves with; how “their dogged and contrary existence” speak to our identities and how we curate, and even fabricate, our memories.

Over the years Tyrrell’s work has changed in scale and subject, her earlier works are large and a lot of them are landscapes: “I started working on portraits and became very interested in people and phases that have a more human scale. I also really enjoy working on wooden panels, it makes the work feel more like an artefact, so I’m drawn towards these very small format pieces.”

“I really enjoy working on wooden panels, it makes the work feel more like an artefact”

Over the summer Tyrrell’s mother moved from the family home into a retirement cottage. The old house had to be cleared of most things, which was a positive experience, though in some senses heartbreaking because you have to throw away objects that had somehow marked a moment: “There’s an ornamental toothpick holder. It’s a lady on a lobster, it’s insane. And a coat hook in the shape of a dog’s head. When you see these objects out of context, it’s odd, but it’s like a portrait of her, through her things that she has, in a way, curated.”


Green Door Gallery

The Gallery is just off Parc Cinquantenaire (21 rue Murillo) and there are several fascinating exhibitions planned in the coming months. 

“It’s a real mix, like last year,” says Tyrrell. “There’s a British artist, Laura Davis, who’s doing visual poetry, which is a real first, her work is beautiful. Then there’s a Flemish artist, Lieve Van Thienen. Then Jacques Dujardin who looks very much to nature, his work has been shown at the Venice Biennale.  Then there’s a British-Belgian artist, Julie Campbell, who works a lot with embroidery and thread, so it really is quite a mixture.” 


Pieces shown:

The Good Jug, oil on panel 42 x 30 cm  (featured)

The Plastic Posy, oil on panel 30 x 42 cm 

The Ornamental Toothpick Holder (Lobster Lady)

The Ceramic Dog Head Coat Hook, oil on canvas 40 x 30 cm