Helen Britton – Tresor en Valise | curated by Emanuela Nobile Mino | Galleria Luisa delle Piane, 2023 April 18th – April 23rd

curated by Emanuela Nobile Mino
Opening, April 18th 2023, 6pm – 10pm
Milan, Via Giuseppe Giusti 24
Through April 23rd 2023
Opening hours: 10:30am – 8pm


Trésor-en-valise is a traveling exhibition format consisting of a series of periodic events dedicated to research into contemporary jewelery and design.
The project stems from the collaboration between two significant Italian galleries: Galleria Antonella Villanova (Florence), for years engaged in research in the field of jewelry design and contemporary decorative arts, and Galleria Luisa Delle Piane (Milan) point of reference for Italian and international, modern and contemporary design.
The image that guides the Trésor-en-valise project is, precisely, that of a symbolic suitcase that travels throughout Italy, from Florence to Milan and vice versa and that, arriving from time to time in one or the other city, opens to revealing its own “treasure”: a concise and accurate selection of works created by the authors represented respectively by the two galleries, with a view to a policy of cooperation and mutual hospitality.
The title of the project is, not surprisingly, borrowed from that of the famous work by Marcel Duchamp, Bôite-en-valise (box in a suitcase) created between 1935 and 1941, before he moved to New York. The work is presented as a rectangular leather case that opens to reveal a mini portable museum containing 69 tiny replicas and reproductions of almost all the works created by the artist between 1910 and 1937.
Trésor-en-valise, curated by Emanuela Nobile Mino, inaugurates its first exhibition in Milan, on the occasion of the Salone del Mobile 2023, featuring Helen Britton, one of the most authoritative designers on the international contemporary jewelry scene and represented by Galleria Antonella Villanova.
The exhibition presents a selection of Britton’s works (jewelry, recently made and from the archive, sculptural objects in concrete and Capodimonte porcelain, and works on paper) and it is hosted in a satellite space of Galleria Luisa Delle Piane – open to the public for the first time – in conjunction with the exhibitions by Andrea Branzi and Gaetano Pesce staged in the main spaces of the Milanese gallery.


Around the middle of the 1200s, in the book Livre des métiers, Etienne Boileau defined goldsmithing as “the art of kings” considering the intrinsic value of jewels subordinated to the symbology that they are able to evoke, as artefacts ennobled by the originality of the own design and the value of their workmanship.
In this sense, Helen Britton’s exhibition for Trésor-en-valise intends to shed light on how these values are translated today into the author’s art practice and take shape in her jewels and her sculptural objects that stand out for the mastery of execution and the visionary nature of the iconographic apparatus that characterizes them, drawing without distinction from the naturalistic and industrial universe, from popular culture and fairy-tale imagery, from the oneiric dimension of dreams or nightmares, and from reality.
Treated with grace and sensitivity, the issues addressed by Britton – sometimes even thorny issues, such as reflection on the environment or on the relationship of humans with the animal world – are transmitted with the lightness of empathy that she aims to establish with the future user of her works, particularly of her jewels.
The evocation of symbolic images, that seem to translate the rituals of indigenous cultures into contemporary metropolitan language, activates an emotional involvement that transmits to jewels the magical charge of dynamic and sometimes sound apotropaic objects, that at the same time retaining the familiar aspect of certain ancient colorful rattle toys.
A sort of call to attention and to presence, to humanity and to the eloquence of the gesture.
Within Helen Britton’s creative and design process, space is also given to a certain randomness. As she herself underlines, chance partly governs the construction of her jewels, the juxtaposition of certain forms which, in some way, already belong to our imagination as archetypal images.
The same freedom of expression is also granted to materials: “Materials leave a trail in space, time and history. It is up to the author [and his humanity] to add something of his own to this already written story, and to let the materials be transformed into ornaments that can be worn, appreciated, exchanged and blessed, for what they represent and for the metaphor they embody ”.