Helen Britton graciously Charms interrupts her busy schedule to speak about her art, as it is just a week before her Interstices exhibition at Perth’s Lawrence Wilson Gallery. The usual noise of installation heard all around us. Some works already attach to the walls, others are strategically place on the floors. The space is then fill with boxes, bubble wrap and ladders, as the installation crew continues their work.
Britton smoothens a piece of metal that could be use as an ornament for the body on the table before us. Britton carefully balances a combination of hand-wrought metallic forms by carefully arranging the ends. She takes another out of a box.
Quick, While Nobody Is Looking, Feel It
Most gallery visitors are denied the privilege of touching. Shivering, tinkling, tiny metal shapes glide between my fingers. These tiny metal shapes are like a lichen-covered European forest in the rain. You are transport by the gunmetal gangrene pine leaves, which dripping with leaf mould fungus. It’s beautiful.
What is it that holds us captive in our fascination with objects of the material world? You may have trinkets in your credenza’s bottom drawer, or proudly displayed on a living room cabinet. These items are part of material culture and can be imbued both with personal and social meanings.
Britton’s collection of personal icons, which she refers to as her creative inspiration, is a random gathering of objects that may seem like a random assortment of fancies.
Britton studied fine art at Edith Cowan University. She also completed a Masters in Creative Arts by Research at Curtin University. Britton is a renown international jeweller and maker exquisitely crafted items that are inspired from the diverse cultures around her.
Western Australia Charms
While her studio is now in Germany, she maintains close ties to Western Australia and visits often. The landforms, bush, and coastal environments of Western Australia provide her with solace and inspiration. Interstices is a celebration and tribute to her 25-years of practice.
Two darkly lit forms, either trained eels, or eevilish train, trundle Charms along the looping circuit in the gallery’s darkened hall. A set of boldly-painted drawings, captured in a flash of downlight glare on a nearby wall are reminiscent of sideshow posters, European folk art chapbooks and places savoring uncertain pleasures.
An adjacent wall is cover in large lucky charms. In front, there’s a display case with intrigue-fuelled jewellery items. A tiny, glowing horse is enclosed in a metal cage. Has it been racing too fast? Three little bluebirds are also nestled in the cage. While a devil-faced, ring laughs at itself, the two of them are encased in an uncomfortable metal bed.
The gallery buzzes with excitement , trepidation and thrill-seeking . Get on board the ghost train! Try your luck! Try your luck! Grab your show bags! Helen Britton will playfully tease you tonight with unheimlich.
Britton critiques traditional art practice’s institutional hierarchies in one space by combining the violence of decorative with it. Large-scale drawings and lusty ornaments made for personal white cube walls echo the rich details of body adornments that fill display cabinets.