Helen Britton completed a Master of Fine Arts by research at Curtin University, Western Australia in 1999, which included guest studies at the Academy of Fine Art in Munich, the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, and San Diego State University in California. In 1999 she returned to Munich to complete a postgraduate study project at the Academy of Fine Arts with Professor Otto Künzli. In 2002 she established her workshop in Munich with David Bielander and Yutaca Minegishi. Her work is held in the National gallery of Australia, in the Pinakothek der Modern, Munich, the Schmuck Museum Pforzheim, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Boston Museum of Fine Art and The Metropolitan Museum, New York, 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 alongside a project grant from the city of Munich. In 2007 Helen Britton was artist in residence in the city of Erfurt, Germany, and in 2008 was invited into Exempla at the International Craft fair in Munich. In 2009 Helen Britton was asked to make a solo exhibition at the Bavarian Crafts Council to coincide with the International Craft fair in Munich. In March of 2011 a new catalogue of Helen Britton’s work was launched in Munich by Helen Drutt-English. In 2013 at the invitation of The Neue Sammlung an overview of 20 years of Helen Britton’s work was shown as a solo exhibition in the Neues Museum, Nürnberg, Germany. In 2013 Britton was also awarded the Förder Preis of the city of Munich.
…Violence, love, riches, sentimentally, humour, wisdom, the exotic, the precious, the rare; a friendly small companion, a lucky charm, an amulet. Hope. The small and the large refrain. While the components themselves are in the form of the cheapest trinket, the sentiment that they intend to convey reaches into the deepest abyss. Primal concerns. These components have come bubbling out of the history of humanity and have drifted around the planet collecting along the tidelines of human activity.
There truly are great piles of these kinds of components, stacked boxes full, all glittering and jittering and demanding attention with their giggle, their glint, and their snarl. These accumulated inhabitants of the jungle of material emotions. How did they come about? What were the circumstances of their production? Did they change anything? Did they help? Where did the impetus come from to embark on their production?
I see in these components all the effort, humour, joy and failure of our existence. They seek out in the most unpretentious way everything that has driven our species since time immemorial, right back down to plastic versions of shells so very similar to those found in the Blombos cave, strung together 70 thousand years ago.
All this trailing baggage of history and theory, I leave at the door of my studio. It clutters. The concept has been long since internalized. The components will continue to tell their stories anyway, so for me they then become raw materials that challenge and stretch my powers of creation. The work in the studio is a process of direct, intuitive, integration and construction, an open-ended experiment. I am not trying to dictate what the work will then say. I am conscious of what I have chosen to incorporate, but am completely immersed in my own process of reinvention and creation that lies well outside the limited boundaries of verbalization.
Curiosity, Sentimentality, Compassion, Empathy. Recognition of the continuum of human inventiveness and creativity. It’s all about the great cornucopia of jewellery. Jewellery, containing this and now waiting to be worn…
Increasingly known for her installations and unique presentations, Helen Britton is changing the way we look at jewelry when it is on and off the body.