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What Makes Helen Britton’s Necklace Art Jewelry?

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SUSTAINABILITY. Preservation of the environment, along with a fondness for costume jewelry, are displayed in this necklace made from repurposed elements.

Helen Britton, Flowers and Stars and Hearts and Tears and Diamonds and Everything Else
Helen Britton, Flowers and Stars and Hearts and Tears and Diamonds and Everything Else, 2021, necklace, silver, glass, plastic, wood, enamel, brass, paint, stone, plaster, copper, ca. 19 ¾ inches (500 mm) long, photo: Dirk Eisel

I would love to be able to make simple things, and perhaps the chasing of this wish is what drives me on. With this new group of pieces made for Gallery Sienna Patti, I thought to pursue my dream with the straightforward form of the bead necklace. Drawing from my archive, I selected components collected over my lifetime, literally since my childhood, to begin anew with this ancient form. In the most difficult phase of the pandemic, performing the task of arranging beads in lines to create sequences of color and texture was a calming, mediative exercise. However, practice is an entangled encounter of energies, processes and materials that rub up against each other and shift in equal capacities, where I am consciously aware of how deeply embedded I am in the entirety of experience, time, and materiality. Produced on all continents, from the widest variety of materials, under circumstances and for purposes ranging from idyllic to horrendous, the beads began to tell me their stories, recounting the ontological inseparability of all entities in the world. This simple form connects libraries of information, strung along these lines of string. —Helen Britton

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