Helen Aitken-Kuhnen completed a gold and silversmithing degree at RMIT, Melbourne in 1975, a Graduate Diploma from Middlesex Polytechnic, London in 1978 and an Associate Diploma in Glass from the Canberra School of Art, ANU in 1986. She is the Director of Workshop Bilk and has lectured in Germany and Australia. Awarded an Australia Council Fellowship in 1992 and an ACT Creative Arts Fellowship in 1997. Her work is represented nationally and internationally.
Helen Aitken Kuhnen has been exhibiting internationally for twenty years, and works from her studio gallery Workshop Bilk in Queanbeyan. She has become respected for the innovative use of her materials, and has had her works collected for inclusion in the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Germany, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Helen Drutt Collection in the USA, amongst others.
Aitken-Kuhnen confines herself to brooches and bangles in the main. She resolves all of her ideas on paper first with drawings that are usually to scale; these are then directly translated into the finished object. Where once she made a preliminary model in porcelain, she now proceeds from the linear outline to the three-dimensional object.
Aitken-Kuhnen has never been tempted by the more brilliant colours that enamels offer. She has confined herself to cool pale blues and greens whose translucent depths beckon like a swimming pool or muted dawn and dusk colours that appear to transform themselves before the eye. These colour shifts can be obtained only by the patient transfer of graduated colours almost grain by grain to the surface of the silver. It is quite customary for her to use twenty or more colours to realise the subtle tonal variations she requires.
Helen says about her work:
The best thing about casting glass is waiting to open the kiln and the excitement/ expectation of what is inside, after the firing process. As pieces are unpacked from the mould long awaited colours and forms are revealed, sometimes devastating sometimes wonderful. This process is for me totally addictive. Helen’s work reflects what is happening in her life and what is around her. She expresses this in the forms she uses and the blocks of colour in her work. In recent times she has been drawn to incidents in her life and the colours that have related to this. The work has in a way become more narrative, but at the same time pared right back to simplified forms that have developed into what she hopes are slightly playful pieces that are meant to be enjoyed.
Bracelet made of sterling silver and champleve enamel.
Inscriptions & markings
Insignia 'H' in circle on bracelet.