"Bleeding Stones" (2010) - 2015 / by Helen Teede


“Bleeding Stones” came into fruition recently, but it really began five years ago with a painting that I've never seemed to be able to finish. I've been working on it constantly - perhaps because I never stop collecting stones and this too is an ongoing process.

The whole project began with this collection of stones, most of which I have been given. Thinking about them, I wondered what compels a person to give another person a stone – believe it or not, this happens a lot. Most of the time, when people see this collection they talk about their own ardent relationships with stones, their collections, how they gave a stone to their lover or their child or friend. I already felt this, but it confirmed for me that stones are not just inanimate objects, or inert lumps of matter - They are capable of creating a meaningful reality. They give comfort. They are solid, and unchanging in a world that is constantly on the move.

Stones are used a lot as symbols of reality or of truth, perhaps it is because the stories of their lives are written on their bodies, and cannot be manipulated or mediated, therefore they can be trusted. Perhaps, on the other hand, it is because of their sheer physicality. If a stone drops on your toe, for example, it immediately asserts its presence so powerfully that it becomes the sole focus of your attention – you feel the reality of the stone by the pain in your toe.

I haven’t dissected and analysed every stone. This isn’t a collection of objects that have to be defined by what I, as a subject, want to know about them. Measuring the volume or the weight of this stone wouldn’t convey it’s essence, or it’s “stoniness”.


"Bleeding Stone" | 2010 - 2016 | Oil on Canvas | 75 x 110 cm

The “Bleeding Stone” paintings are not an attempt to describe, or convey their essence, but rather an attempt to mediate the relationship between the subjects – you and I – and the objects – these stones.

The title is a play on the words, “getting blood out of a stone” which is a phrase used ironically, the assumption being that causing a stone to bleed is impossible. Which, of course it is. But I do feel that, in a sense, stones do “bleed” and “cry” and possess emotion but not in the same way that we do, and I call it “emotion” for lack of a word to use. They possess something that in the world of stones, would be akin to human emotion – though we would never know what this is exactly because none of us ourselves are stones.

Nevertheless, we intuitively feel that they exert a force in our world, which is why so many people are drawn to them, collect them, and give them to people they care about.


Collected Stones | 2010 - ongoing

"Bleeding Stones" (i) - (xiv) | 2015 | Oil, Chalk and Charcoal on Canvas | Dimensions Vary