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Helen Ross

Helen Ross was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1921. Although Scottish by birth, she spent most of her early childhood in the windswept Shetland Islands – ‘The Land of the Midnight Sun’ – far from the North of Scotland, just south of the Arctic Circle. Helen's heart has always been in the Shetlands, and she still has relatives living on Shetland's most northerly island, Unst.

She was married to her beloved Archie for 66 years, and they had two sons, Irvine and William.

Archie was in the Special Branch of Scotland Yard and in his work they travelled extensively to various countries worldwide, with Africa and the Isle of Capri being two of her favourite destinations.

From childhood, Helen was interested in putting her feelings and youthful experiences down in writing. Therefore, it came to her naturally to do the same as they travelled, although she never thought of sharing them with others until 2010, when her first book, Vaila’s Capri, was published.

In 2014, Helen published her second book, Short Stories.

Helen felt very honoured when Janelle Thomas, a promising up-and-coming young artist, invited her to sit for her portrait to be painted and entered for the Archibald Prize. Not to be outdone, Kirsty, Helen’s constant companion, hopped on to Helen’s lap to be included in the portrait.

The local Public School recognised Helen’s interest in writing by giving an Annual Award to the most promising students, in her honour.

Helen continues to live a very active life on the beautiful Central Coast of NSW with Kirsty, her ever-faithful doggy friend.


Celebrity Painting wins 2015 Newcastle Kilgour Prize
In November 2015, an oil-on-linen portrait of Helen was selected as the winner of the $50,000 Kilgour Art Prize, awarded by Newcastle Art Gallery. The portrait, titled Helen Ross, 94, with Kirsty 2015, was painted in a single sitting by artist Janelle Thomas.

Of Helen, Janelle had this to say:

"At 94, Mrs Helen Ross brims with vitality and dignity. I admire Helen's spirit and contribution to her community as she tirelessly organises and assists local groups ... Helen also published her first novel at age 88. Her latest book, Short Stories, 2014, captures some of her rich life experiences."
– Kilgour Prize 2015, Newcastle Herald, Friday November 13, 2015

Selected from 30 finalists, the artwork will be on exhibit until February 2016, at Newcastle Art Gallery.