The Island Gallery
rana helmi
return to artist's homepage


The Island Gallery
106 Madison Avenue North
Bainbridge Island, WA. 98110

Tel. 206-780-9500
Fax. 206-780-7811
For more information, contact
Susan Swannack-Nunn, Owner

August 31, 2004. For immediate release.
Exhibition Dates: September 3-30, 2004
Opening Reception: First Friday, September 3, 2004

Rana Helmi, educated in Indonesia and Europe, has been designing textile fashions in her studio in Ubud, Bali (Indonesia), for the past two decades. Her collection incorporates a wonderful interplay of color and motif, reflecting the vivid colors of the Asian tropics and of Provence where she lived during her university years. The hand drawn batik incorporated in her designs comes from collaboration with Indonesian and American batik designers working in cottage industries in Indonesia. She does a limited number of pieces as she works on them directly. Each is a unique work of art. In addition to The Island Gallery, her fashion designs are sold to a devoted clientele in Indonesia, Singapore, and Paris.

While Rana designs a range of fashions, her reversible jackets and coats are particularly suited to the Northwest. Each piece presents a surprise for the wearer! Rana notes, “When I first started making jackets years ago many people commented that they enjoyed spotting something, a bit hidden inside, and turning the jacket inside out to see what it was. Looking at the clothes people wore, I tired of everything being set out to attract with nothing forthcoming afterwards. Doing things this way also makes one work harder, to actually have something there for people to find.”

About the Artist

Rana Helmi was born in 1951 in Jakarta, the capital of a then brand new Republic of Indonesia. Her father was an Indonesian diplomat and her mother was Turkish. She began moving around the world from the age of nine months, attending schools in various countries and various languages. It was a life of continuous discovery, a stream of new cultures and new views.

A well-dressed mother was her first introduction to the fascinating transformations that could be brought about by colors, shapes and fabrics. Many childhood evenings were spent watching as she experimented with different “looks,” mixing fabrics, accessories and styles from all over the world.

“Years spent in London in the late sixties introduced me to a more daring spectrum: there was an explosion of freedom and clothes were costumes that mixed designs, textiles and art forms from all countries in the world at any date in history. It was exuberating, and dressing became a means of escaping narrow confines, of participating in an open world. In particular a Magritte exhibition at the Tate made a very strong impact on the rebel in me: here was a way of putting things that made one laugh instead of feeling frustrated and wound up.

My university years were spent in Provence, in the South of France –limestone country with a strong play of light. During winter days, the Mistral harrowed the atmosphere and the huge limestone mound transformed into every shape, size, and color imaginable in the space of a few minutes; during the long summer evenings, the sun fell slowly like honey bringing the country to light. The interplay of light and colors absorbed much of my time.

Years later, having moved to Bali, I had yet another important formative experience: building my own house from scratch. The months of agonizing over blending practicalities and esthetics introduced me to the creative aspect of construction, an intimacy with a process that I had never experienced before. It gave me new perspectives. A sewing machine, a gift from my mother that I had initially viewed with suspicion, suddenly offered new creative possibilities to express all that I had learned and absorbed.”