Do you know the story of Arachne? The confident young mortal who challenged and criticized the powers that be, proved that a woman could shine brightly with her skill and as a consequence was transformed into a monstrous spider. Or was she just a vain young maker with no interest or understanding in where her talents came from? In all the myths about Arachne one thing is clear; she censures power about abuse and the consequences are brutal. Is this Ancient History? Or does it sound familiar? Things have changed for some of us perhaps, but our lives and practices remain constricted by power structures with histories old and new. Tedious, frustrating, dangerous and sometimes deadly.
In the face of this, as a woman and an artist, I have chosen jewelry as a form to construct a work representing hope and resistance, a beautiful garden of possibility. The old stones are still on my table, carrying in their materiality and forms tales of love and loss, skill and exploitation, of exquisiteness and destruction. What better substance for this work?
This is Arachne’s Garden, jewels as symbols for women and sympathizers of every gender to wear in celebration of our capacity to create beauty, signs of defiance against the myths devised to bind us all.
Helen Britton, August 2019.
Helen Britton is one of the most influential and eloquent artists working in contemporary jewelry today. Originally from Western Australia she received her Master of Fine Arts from Curtin University including studies at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam, and San Diego State University, California. She currently works and lives in Munich, Germany. Since completing her postgraduate study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich her work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world. Her work is held in the public collections of LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), National Gallery of Australia, The Pinakothek der Modern, Munich, The Schmuck Museum Pforzheim, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Museum of Fine Art Boston, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, The Hermatige, St Petersburg and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London among others. In 2005 Helen was awarded the Herbert Hofmann prize for excellence in contemporary jewellery and in 2006 the state prize of Bavaria for craftsmanship. In 2013 at the invitation of The Neue Sammlung, Munich, an overview of 20 years of Helen’s work was shown as a solo exhibition in the Neues Museum, Nürnberg, Germany. In 2013 Britton was awarded the Förder Preis of the city of Munich, and in 2014 was artist in residence at Villa Bengel in Idar-Oberstein. In 2015 Helen Britton was Artist in Residence at Vasse Felix in Western Australia. In 2017 Helen presented a mid-career retrospective entitled Intersticies at The Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, UWA, Western Australia in conjunction with the Festival of Perth.