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Helen was born in 1943 to Ruth and David Glass. Ruth, originally from Germany, was an academic sociologist and David was a senior lecturer in Sociology at LSE, he later became Professor ad Head of Department.

Helen’s childhood was spent in Kensington and her involvement with Walberswick began in the year of the Coronation; Ruth had been staying in Southwold and took frequent trips across the ferry with Helen and her brother Robert to Walberswick. Ruth found Eastway Cottage in a dilapidated state following the flood and managed to purchase it for £500. Helen threw herself enthusiastically into the life of the village, insisting that Ruth buy her a white dress so that she could carry a missal to Sunday School. Later she found that escaping through the bedroom window enabled her to have a life of her own in the village. In later years it is said that some of the girls in the village would breathe a sigh of relief when she had to return to London on Sunday evening.

At school Helen’s Art Teacher, Dennis Huntley, recognised her talent for sculpture and painting and gave her great encouragement - one of her sculptures was illustrated in a book on children’s art education in the ‘50s. She applied to The Slade and was offered a place in the Sculpture School in 1961, the first year that they offered places to students straight from school. Helen switched to painting and was awarded the Slade Diploma in 1966, in the same year she had a joint exhibition with 2 artists in Kingley Street. The spectacular hot pant suit in pink and green satin that she wore to the opening had been made for her by Lucy Blyth and as a result of wearing it she was remembered as the star of the show. It was at The Slade that she met John Duane.

Helen taught at South Hackney Comprehensive School and then moved to New York to work on an arts project in The Bronx, as well as waitressing in the Blecker Street Diner Bar where she met a lot of colourful characters, including Warhol. On her return Helen and John lived in Newcastle before moving to London in 1970. They had two children, Zachary and Eli and she continued to hold one woman shows. They moved to Marseille for two years and following that, when John had work in Singapore, Helen and the children joined him for extended holidays. Helen fell in love with South-East Asia.

Having recovered from her first cancer in 1993 Helen found the perfect job teaching art in Brookside Adolescent Hospital for mental health and behavioural problems, quickly advancing to Head of Education, in spite of a second and more severe cancer. She worked closely with the Clinical Team - psychiatrist, psychologist, nurses and therapists and transformed the school, forming closer links with other schools, increasing involvement with parents and linking with facilities in other countries. Helen took early retirement after ten years following a further bout of cancer. She began to work on a series of pastel landscapes which she continued into the last year of her life.

Helen Duane

The landscapes of Walberswick - the sea, estuary and horizons - inspired the greater proportion of her work.
There will be a private cremation on Monday 13th May, followed by a gathering in Hackney.

With thanks to John Duane.