Helen Rees Leahy

I am Professor Emerita in Museology at the University of Manchester, where I taught and wrote about art and museums for twenty years. Before that I worked as a curator and museum director, and have organised many exhibitions of art and design. I have been a board member of a number of educational and arts charities, including Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Cornerhouse, Manchester.

I now live in Conwy and combine my interests in the arts with my personal textile practice as a weaver. I am also learning Welsh, the language of my ancestors.

I have Multiple Sclerosis and am involved in advocacy on behalf of people with MS.


I joined the Board of Oriel Davies in 2020 and am very pleased to have this opportunity to support the gallery and its activities. I am a firm believer in the value of creative action in all our lives, and in the role of Oriel Davies as a catalyst for making, looking and talking together. I would like to bring my experience of the arts and education to support the work of the gallery as a space for expression and experimentation – for everyone. As William Morris said, ‘I do not want art for a few; any more than education for a few; or freedom for a few.’

As someone living with Multiple Sclerosis, I have direct knowledge and experience of disability in relation to cultural participation and production, and will work with the team at Oriel Davies to ensure that it is a welcoming, inclusive and safe space for all of us.


This simple wooden shuttle carries the thread across my hand loom and slowly, row by row, forms a piece of cloth. Making something by hand is a very specific action in a world of mass production. It embodies the values of care, sustainability and localism that are important to me. When I weave, I am not trying to imitate the qualities of factory-made cloth. Rather than correct ‘mistakes’, why not regard them part of a unique design? My aim is not to strive for an external notion of visual perfection, but to enjoy making as a means of personal expression and social connection

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