Painter, china painter, teacher and photographer was the daughter of Margaret Grubb Beale from Mountmellick in County Laois, Ireland, and her husband William James Creeth. Margaret and William emigrated to Victoria in 1853, joining her Quaker parents, the Beales, who had arrived in 1852. James and his brother Richard, who married Margaret’s sister Sarah, became importers, merchants and mining entrepreneurs. Margaret was apparently skilled in china painting.

Helen was born in Melbourne and named Margaret Helena but was known as Helen. She had a sister, May, and a brother, Richard (b.1856). She trained as an art teacher at the South Kensington Schools (now Royal College of Art) in London. By 1893 she is recorded as teaching in Sydney where she remained till about 1910 when she joined May in Western Australia. They appear to have had independent means. They lived in West Perth, first in Wilson Street (now Parliament Place) then in 27 Outram Street where they lived and worked. Helen’s studio in 1914 was at 104 St Georges Terrace. She later joined May in her studio.

A vase by Creeth is in the collection of the Art Gallery of Western Australia. This has delicate purple Native Wisteria – Hardenbergia comptonia trailing over a creamy bulbous base in striking contrast to the gold and black-rimmed neck. Helen Creeth died on 8 April 1941.

Dr Dorothy Erickson
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