Helen Britton – Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft

Australian Design Centre is delighted to announce Helen Britton has been selected as the next artist for the exhibition series Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft.

Helen Britton is a multidisciplinary Australian artist based in Munich, Germany. Her practice includes jewellery, sculpture, drawings, stencils and installations, and is informed by popular culture and folk art, threatened traditions, environmental destruction and human anxiety.

ADC CEO and Artistic Director, Lisa Cahill said, “We are honoured that Helen Britton, an exceptional Australian artist of international reputation, has accepted this award and will work closely with us in coming months towards her exhibition. Helen is the 10th Living Treasure: Master of Australian Craft, and will be the 5th woman honoured in this series”.
Australian Design Centre is joined by a panel of sector experts from across Australia to select artists for the Living Treasures series. In recent years that panel has included Lisa Cahill (CEO and Artistic Director ADC), Brian Parkes (CEO JamFactory), and Dr Kevin Murray (Garland Magazine).
A grant from the Federal Government’s Visions of Australia program will support the research and development for the Centre to work with Helen to develop the exhibition to be presented in Sydney in 2025 with a multi-state national tour to follow.
Stay tuned for more information as the project takes shape.

About Helen Britton

“I am deeply touched to be given the Living Treasure Master of Australian Craft Award. To have that acknowledgement for my life’s work come from home is a beautiful feeling. To be treasured is to be both cared for and considered valuable. I gratefully accept the award, but not without a certain sadness. To be an Australian Artist in the world at this moment is to be marked as a citizen of country whose reputation hangs in the balance. The worth of the Art of a nation is diminished when that nation is not decent. To carry the honour of this award comes with a responsibility to promote an understanding of what is perceived as valuable. Nothing is more valuable than kindness, truth telling and reconciliation in respect to the First Nations people in the country that I call home at this point in our history.” — Helen Britton, October 22, 2023.

Born in regional New South Wales, Helen Britton grew up in Muloobinbah/Newcastle on Awabakal land. She completed a Master of Fine Arts by research at Curtin University, Western Australia in 1999, which included guest studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam, and San Diego State University, California.
In 1999 she returned to Munich to complete postgraduate study at the Academy of Fine Arts with Otto Kunzli.
In 2002 she established her Studio in Munich with David Bielander and Yutaka Minegishi.
In March of 2011, Helen Drutt-English launched a new catalogue of Helen Britton’s work in Munich. In 2013 at the invitation of The Neue Sammlung, Munich, an overview of 20 years of Helen’s work was shown in the Neues Museum, Nürnberg, Germany.
In 2017 Helen was invited to create the exhibition “Intersticies”, curated by Ted Snell for the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at the University of Western Australia, in conjunction with the Festival of Perth. The exhibition included 35 years of the artists practice including her large scale drawing works, Ghost Train installation and a selection of small sculptures and objects.
In 2019 Helen Britton was made adjunct Professor of RMIT University in Melbourne. In 2020 Helen was invited by the Bavarian Chamber of Crafts to curate Schmuck for the International Handwerksmesse in Munich.
In 2021 Elena Alvarez-Lutz released her documentary film Hunter from Elsewhere, A Journey with Helen Britton at Dok.Fest Munich. A comprehensive exhibition catalogue of The Dark Garden was published by Prearo Editore and Galleria Antonella Villanova in 2022.

Helen Britton is represented in Australia by Gallery Funaki.

Director of Gallery Funaki, Katie Scott said, “Over four decades and across several continents, Helen Britton’s practice has ranged from drawing to jewellery to sculpture and beyond as if no single discipline can tame the hoard of ideas, her busy mind always seeking fresh connections with her nimble hands. And it is her hands that link every discipline – at the root of Helen’s art is craft: the skilled, technical craft methods learned and perfected over a lifetime. So it is with great joy that we celebrate the Australian Design Centre’s announcement that Helen will be the next artist Living Treasure: Master of Australian Craft.”

About Living Treasures

Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft is an initiative of the Australian Design Centre. The series aims to celebrate the achievements of Australia’s most iconic crafts practitioners, through a touring exhibition and a major monograph publication.
Living Treasures celebrates the work and practice of exceptional individuals who have demonstrated more than three decades of excellence in their chosen discipline.
The series was conceived in 2004 when ADC reached out to the sector nationally to review nominations and select the next Living Treasure. Artists included in the series to date are Prue Venables, Lola Greeno, Nick Mount, Jeffery Mincham AM, Liz Williamson, Marian Hosking, the late Klaus Moje and the late Les Blakebrough AM.
The Living Treasures exhibitions focus on current work – they are not historic surveys. This concept aims to ensure that the work and ideas presented are current reflections of the practitioner’s process and output. Each exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful monograph, which not only celebrates the work but also delves into each artist’s background in more detail, contextualising their status as a leading practitioner of their craft.
The Living Treasures series of now ten exhibitions is supported by the Federal Government’s Visions of Australia program.



Images: Helen Britton, portrait 2023, styling and photography: Corinna Teresa Brix and Dirk Eisel