Sarah Walker-Holt and Helen Britton


About Sarah   About Helen

11 January 2016

Rounding Up – A Dissection and Configuration of Being a Mentee

The Mentorship:

When I was initially selected for Handshake 2 and told Helen was happy to accept being my mentor, I was quite nervous. Even though I had a brief meeting with her in Munich before our affiliation began, visiting Helen, David and Yutaka’s Studio was an invigorating start that gave me heart palpitations at the thought of working with someone, even though at a distance, that is totally immersed in a continually strong and endearing artistic culture compared to my own. After primarily putting on a brave face, in an attempt to hide my nervousness, Helen soon put my anxiety at ease with her friendly, giving and supportive nature. I have been continually admirable of her bountiful sharing of insight, ideas, processes, materials and especially time. Right from the beginning I felt she had faith in me as a maker and I in turn did not want to let her down. She put me at ease while challenging the best in me. I often heard Helen giving voice to my own considerations that I have tended to treated more unassumingly.  Helen’s guidance and advice has given me trust in my own creative thought processes and encouraged me to listen to my own instincts and choices more intently.

So, I really couldn’t have chosen a better mentor if I tried, I will sing Helen’s praise into infinity. Helen is a fantastically professional, reliable, generous and honest person who has gone the extra mile, qualities that I aspire to and hope to match. She is extremely supportive of the Handshake project.

Quotes and Tips:

It’s hard to specify quotes and tips from my time with Helen when it has been so numerous and invaluable. Recently though, Helen gave me reassurance when I expressed that my latest pieces weren’t my strongest. She explained how our making process and exhibition timeline do not always go hand in hand and align how we would like. This is all part of the big picture, and given time to reflect I may also feel differently about the work, once it has had some space. This serves as a great example of Helen’s knowledge, experience and understanding. She is definitely still a super star to me, even more so in fact.

The best tip Helen gave me was introducing me to the Japanese saw which allowed me to cut through wood objects with ease, from difficult angles. Being able to cut fiddly and angular pieces from an initially problematic shape was something that had been troubling me for some time. I had found my jewelley saw took too long, even with a bigger toothed blade, and the blades would snap with awkward angles. I had also been struggling with my scroll saw, that just doesn’t like anything that isn’t flat and the bandsaw is just too big and cumbersome for small fiddly pieces and angles; an accident waiting to happen!

Early on Helen sent me a parcel of bits and pieces that she thought I might like to use. I immediately went for the laminate samples, even though I had some of my own, these German ones had a more nostalgic aesthetic and they were bigger. I have had a lot of enjoyment from laminating and I am ready to find what else I can laminate with. Also, in this box of goodies, was a smaller box of components that I have put to one side for a later date, although that later date may soon be approaching. Discussing components and creating my own was another significant breakthrough and I am indebted to Helen for encouraging me to develop metal components simultaneously while dissecting wooden objects and combining the two.

Over all Helen brought me back, as prior to handshake I felt my making was starting to lack some substance, there was a solid, heaviness that was disappearing and I am nothing, if not honest, and tell you that this lack coincided with the turmoil of losing my mother. I am now back on track and stronger for the experience as is the work.

The Blog:

Looking back over the last 2 years of my Handshake posts I can see clearly that I have predominantly documented my technical conundrums and developments and essentially that is where my focus has been on a subconscious level. When starting this project, the blog challenged how and what I share with the viewer. Initially, I wanted consistency and for it to be a virtual record of my communication with Helen, a condensed record of our conversations and my practical responses to those discussions. I love bullets points and I am an avid list maker so utilising these innate ways of documenting, as I would in a visual diary, took president as a way forward and a place to start. As time allowed I changed my approach to the blog and started to talk – vocalise my thoughts and it was the emails that I sent to Helen, updating her of my progress, that initiated a comfort to do this and well let’s face it, I don’t really have trouble talking to myself as that is what I do in my head constantly and without it there would be no creativity. Call it nuts if you must, I am happy with that.

The Beginning:

You have to ask yourself, at the end of an experience, what has changed or has there been a significant shift. What is the ultimate conclusion to being mentored? There is no doubt that doing Handshake has been hard, gratifying and sublime and these emotions align themselves with growth as a maker. I have already addressed the physical and technical changes in my making via Helen’s fantastic advice but overall I know I have become unstuck, in a good way. When you leave the guidance of an institution, there is a tendency to flounder, get stuck or lost. You spend years working towards and finalising an idea, working out who you are as an artist. Then all of a sudden it is like the rug has been pulled away from beneath you and you get lodged and bogged down in the mud, questioning how you continue without radically changing what you have learnt and developed, treating your grad show is a conclusion. But finishing something is not a conclusion; it is a beginning, so that is what Handshake has changed for me, learning to put the beginning at the end.

11 December 2015

How can material equate to form or form equate to material?

untitled no 4.1

Recently I had an interesting wee chat with a local retailer of NZ made, native timber products. I was telling her about how I have been using unwanted Kauri objects that I have found in op shops and in particular my latest acquisition, two Kauri Garlic Bread trays made by South Seas. Concurrently, she indicated how she has an interest in searching for by-gone native timber products and had noted those trays are no longer being made. Curiously, she said that the South Seas products are now hard to come by, as she knew and described the exact ones I was referring to.

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couple of interesting videos about Kauri…………………….

This is a quartz that I have had sitting in front of me in my studio, ebbing its way into my subconscious. It was gifted to me by my best friend, Lisa Williams. Lisa doesn’t know the influence she has had on me over the years with her holistic ways, that bring me into check every now and then. Lisa has kept my creative spirit alive at times in our lives when it could of left me completely. But the reason I am referencing this quartz is because I associate it with the NZ bush and those by-gone days of sourcing precious materials like Kauri and gold. Lisa found this quartz and many others years ago and gave it to me after one of her expeditions and said, ‘we used to walk the old gold miners trails in the hills of the coromandel peninsular – follow our noses and look for old gold mines and tunnels as the old gold miners used to throw the quartz out as they were only interested in the gold and after a bush fire was the best time when the ground was clear, sometimes quartz was strewn around in a radius from the mine shaft’. I see an ambiguous relationship between these 3 materials, their close yet ambivalent connection to one another and to jewellery. I’m not sure yet where I am going with this association and inkling, but feel excited by it.

4 December 2015

Presentation considerations on ‘The Plank’, even though mine is more of ‘A Board’. In fact it has felt like a ‘Board Game’ at times……………..

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27 November 2015

Currently, I’ve been restricting myself to making necklaces and putting the mechanistic/tactile challenges to one side. This decision stems from a Skype with Helen where she challenged how I have been predominantly configuring brooches. I am glad she did this because I was feeling quite comfortable and needed to shake myself up a little to stop from becoming too contrived.


model: Zoe Walker-Holt



It has taken me on a path I wasn’t expecting – opened new ideas. My early expectation for Pah was some kind of conclusion for my interactive pieces that was probably, in hind sight, quite naive. Just because it is the final show for Handshake 2, does not mean to say I need to present an end product of an idea. In fact it is more of a new beginning, it is not a destination but a new departure for what comes next, after Handshake 2.

So, the necklaces feel quite raw, in fact they are a presentation of an experiment even though they appear complete. There are structural, composition and accumulative considerations that are in their infancy. The challenge with this presentation is exhibiting work at this embryonic stage. I feel like I am presenting in reverse, and the work I exhibited at the beginning of handshake was a conclusion. I like this, I like that it is kind of screwing with the lateral expectation of my making and exhibition-al process.


18 October 2015

I’ve been using a machine I got from emptying out the last of dads workshop and using it to facet pieces cut from a Kauri garlic bread tray. Initially, I didn’t know what this machine was, except for guessing it was some kind of grinding disc that dad had made a wooden box type frame for. It looks quite rudimentary, so I didn’t even know if it worked or what it was actually for. Then, my son Lee said its probably useful for my practice and went on to explain that its a carpentry tool dad used to round off corners on wood. I couldn’t believe it, after all these years, I had never seen Dad using it. Its a bit dangerous with no guards but fun for faceting or getting a nice smooth and even surface instantly. Well, fun till I forget my goggles and lose and eye or end looking like I’ve been given the bash as the pieces turn into projectiles that ricochet of me and then the walls.  Although, now I do have a swollen eye, not from a faceted piece of Kauri, but because my goggles are not keeping all the dust out. My studio has a very fine film of wood dust covering everything – could do with an extractor fan or maybe only using it on a fine day outside.

IMG_20150811_1349462015-10-11 16.43.242015-10-11 16.44.142015-10-13 14.19.052015-10-17 12.58.012015-10-17 12.58.28

 22 September 2015

Pin Block.

My son Royd who is a fitter/turner made me a tool to make pins more simply that I call my Pin Block. I had made a prototype, of sorts, out of some aluminium bar I had lying around to test the idea , then gave Royd a drawing and he made a steel one for me. It doesn’t do a perfect job, the heads tend to be unevenly splayed but I’m not worried about that because you can’t tell when all you can see is the surface of the pinhead when its used. I was finding that making a ball-end on a pin was too bulky, so this tool simply lets me cut the rod slightly longer than the hole in the tool and hammer the end to flatten it into a pin-end. The tool splits in half to help release the pin. I am so loving having a boilermaker husband and a spin off with 2 sons in metal fabrication trades, fitter/turner [Royd] and toolmaker [Lee]. They are so helpful with fabrication issues as I can bounce ideas and resolves off them, its great, their knowledge and experience in these trades is now proving invaluable to me.

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8 September 2015

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25 August 2015

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1 August 2015

My earlier Handshake work,’Kitset’ is this month at Te Uru until the 28th. Here is the download version of the accompanying catalog with writing by Deborah Crowe SWH 2.5

And Some images courtesy of Sam Hartnett……..

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27 July 2015

This is sooooo funny yet endearing and speaks to me on so many different levels, as to my practice, that I can’t itemize. Those who know my practice will get it!…………..and some of the terminology I love…see if you can pick it out……. Thanks Lee for passing the link on, you know your mother oh to well…………………………………..

25 July 2015

Its been a very exciting and busy month………………..

Sydney – Stanley St Gallery, was very well received overall as it was on at the same time as JMGA-NSW ‘edges boarders gaps’ conference. I went over for the opening with Lisa and Tineke. I also went to the conference and spent a lot of time with Mary Curtis, so we had some great discussions about the various shows and the talks. There was a general consensus that Handshake was a strong show. Peter didn’t install in the end the gallery did it. They used high tables with brown paper and the walls, except for mine which they put on a plinth. I had some good discussions with Marilyn from Stanley St and she indicated a great interest in my work.

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The conference was interesting and gave me food for thought as to how I would present if ever approached to speak in the future. A few of them put me to sleep with all the academic jargon, which I am sure makes a great thesis but was not engaging as a speech. The ones that were honest and spoke plainly with their images were fantastic, they are the ones I got the most from. We were well feed and watered so hospitality was top rate. I didn’t manage to get to all the exhibitions unfortunately, due to time constraints and finding my way around as it was my first time in Sydney.





Brooches: kauri, Laminate, Brass

Auckland – I came back from a full on 5 days in Sydney to a full on time in Auckland with the opening of Wunderruma at Auckland art galley. This is wonderful for the jewellers here and we are all very proud. In conjunction with this, ‘Wunderweek’ was formed where we had a weekend [last week] of popup shows done in schmuck fashion. I put work into the fingers show ‘Wundermeke’ and ‘RAW – Reactions After Wunderruma’. For both of these shows I put in some quite approachable pieces that are pared back variations of Stanley St. I decided to do this to see how they would be received as my viewers are so use to my complicated ones.

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RAW – was a popup show curated by Jo Mears that I put 5, very minimal, pieces in – just 2 laminated and painted pieces hinged together. While I was making the pieces for Stanley St I had multiple leftovers and there would be just a few here and there that I had been putting to one side, as I found them alluring. Thinking back on one of my conversations with Helen about experimenting with just putting a few pieces together really informed this approach. I was quite nervous about them because of their minimal nature. The work in RAW was not for sale so a good place to get feedback and be resourceful by using the show as a part of my handshake workings [hope that makes sense]. Mary, having seen and loving the Stanley St pieces expressed she liked the minimal pieces more – much to my surprise. This was great as it has encouraged me to play with this further.

Te Uru – I have a solo show of ‘Kitset’ [form last year at toi poneke] going into te uru’s Curiosity Corner. Deborah Crowe has done a small bit of writing to complement ‘Kitset’ at te uru and they are producing a small catalogue for it which I will get an ISBN number for. busy busy……………..

Work for Avid – last but not least I am hanging to get back to the next phase of Handshake – I have had 3 spanners cast in bronze that I will pick up this week [so I haven’t seen them yet]. I have been waiting 3 weeks as they had trouble with the metal flowing into the text. I thought it best to have them cast first and use as the starting point rather than vice versa…………….They recommended bronze – I wanted brass but they said it would be too difficult.

19 June 2015

We are now just about ready for casting ……………



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Tool 1


Tool 2






My son Lee (toolmaker) is currently helping me to come up with a spanner that can be incorporated into my pieces. I’m very excited about this. There has been plenty of discussion going backwards and forwards. At one point Lee suggested we make one that comes apart to create 2 spanners, I loved this idea but knowing the fiddly-ness of the scale I realized this would not work in practical terms, as one hand needs to be holding the work [cupped in hand]. The 2 drawings that Lee has done above have a slight difference. On tool 1- the handle is straight where it connects to the spanner head, where on tool 2 – it there is a tapered neck. I have chosen tool 2.

These are my drawings to Lee, the spanner to be made in brass……………..

Spanner drawing 2015_2

3 June 2015

Presentation workings and considerations…………………………….

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Workings and documentation from the bench top…………………

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bubbled paint

Helen suggested I try adding heat to the paint process to see if it speeds it up (70deg) but it bubbled. I tried different variations but with not enough success to warrant. I also needed to test that the glue used to laminate stood up to heat as well if I was to incorporate, which it did.


Helen reminded me that I need to keep referring the work to the garment/body and not to just work with the horizontal plane of the bench.








8 May 2015

Here are the latest images of the 2 pieces I’ve been frantically working on.

Since my last update I have got 2 of the pieces to a more finished place, but not fully resolved.
1. The hinged piece has a wiggle in it – Brett said it is because the tube it slides into is fractionally bigger, even though it appears a perfect fit, it needs to be tight. So I did a test piece and cut a fraction out of the tubing and re-soldered so it was as tight as I could go and it is a lot better. I now need to remake the attached piece – a reasonably easy fix.

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2. I am still feeling uneasy about the paint, I was enjoying seeing an unworn aesthetic (which is contradictory to my work generally and my personal philosophy). I think I was enjoying the new/fresh look instead because I see the distressed aesthetic being popular at present and I don’t really do popular. I have a tendency to go against the grain, no pun intended . I have thought about an earlier conversation I had with Helen about letting the marks happen to the paint as I am working but the paint is taking too long to be hard enough and the markings indicate more to the paint being soft.

I don’t want to sand – because that is a distressed look and I want a worn look – I see these as quite different. I think I have achieved this worn-ness on the back of the green brooch, but the way I did it with turps is not ideal – I risk taking it to far and again it makes the paint tacky for sometime.

The edges between the paint and laminate and near impossible to get even – they are a definite imperfection. I don’t like perfection in the precision sense – it’s not me being true to myself and the more I try to do it the worse it gets anyway. I think I am being more honest if I don’t deny the imperfections and recognize them as a touch of the hand but at the same time I am extremely aware that imperfections still have to be right. Hope that makes sense.

3. I am having an inkling to make some extremely minimal pieces the may only be 2 pieces hinged – I haven’t got my head around this yet.

26 April 2015

Below are a few images from the last weeks. I am working on 3 pieces at the moment and a 4th that I have pieces cut but I have put to one side to think on a wee bit.

I have been in the studio as much as I possibly can but have been quite frustrated with the painting part of the process – waiting for it to dry and layer it – just to find I damage the paint when assembling. I will persevere with the fiddly-ness of fixing paint.


Image 1 – this is nearly complete and just needs the brooch back attaching and the front re- attachable orange component changing/fixing. The image doesn’t do it justice at this point (I’ve just taken them quick for documenting) I have been placing the piece against dressmaking dummy and works well with the body as a brooch.



Image 2 – 2nd piece ready for assemblage – Brooch – composition will change intuitively as I assemble.





Image 3 – this is a piece cut specifically after our discussion – extracting a specific piece I envisaged. These are the left-overs. the piece I cut out was an L shape





Image 4 – subsequent pieces cut specifically – and being laminated





Image 5 – combination of specifically cut pieces from various objects in a specific composition




On doing the above exercise Helen suggested (images 3, 4 and 5), I realized I have done this process before for a few pendants, so found it was good to refresh and decided to make a completed piece by treating it the same as image 1 and 2. Except I am realizing it as a necklace.



Image 6 – laminating process of clamping – fun process/documentation image.
I think it is in my best interest to work on the kit-set piece with the tool for Pah Homestead in November. I have also resolved the issue with loose nuts by soldering 2 nuts with a gap to a piece of plate (see image 1, orange attachment) in the same way I did the brooch pin on the previous prototype earlier in the month. In saying this I will still see how I go time wise with assembling the next 2 pieces and then reassess.

I have also needed to change the nuts I use to a slimmer version as the previous nuts (that I really like) have ceased to be stocked by all the hardware’s I utilize. At this point I am waiting to here from one of them if they can still get more. Subsequently the slimmer version works well for the soldered attachment mechanism I explained above.

17 April 2015

Sapnner Pattern Assembly

preliminary cad drawing for accompanying tool – Lee Walker-Holt


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4 April 2015 

Thanks to Renee I’m on a video bender. The first one is what I’ve been working on since my last post which still has some elements to be resolved. The video is raw – straight from my work table – no editing I’m afraid while my laptop is at the computer doctor still!!.  Then there’s a video titled, Locating Place, thanks to Fran Allison’s ‘Jewellery Conversations’ series and finally a small video of one of Helen’s latest exhibitions that I wish I could of seen in person but luckily found this snippet instead…………………..enjoy……………………

22 February 2015

Wunder1 Wunder



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January 2015


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Dec 2014

You can read an article I wrote, for the Jewellers Guild of Greater Sandringham, about my experience so far as a mentee here; shook into being-overview

13 Dec 2014

Skype 9


  • Orange ropes directed audiences attention but don’t be afraid to stay true to work
  • Research freely outside of jewellery – mechanical mechanisms, mechanical function – link together and move + aesthetic and interpret into jewellery
  • Scale – mechanism can become piece then appropriate into jewellery
  • re-build a found mechanism or interpret in wood

10 December 2014


 21 November 2014

2014 HS2 Toi Poneke 01 2014 HS2 Toi Poneke 02



8 Nov 2014

Skype 8


  • Media player v USB for film work – media player = more furniture to house it
  • Loop 40 sec of film into a 5min work
  • Concerned with how rough people will be with work – plumbers solder proving to not be very strong -determine were boarder is for physical strength of work – for future reference think of it like kids toys. unfortunately its not till it gets to be interacted with that I find out the physical strengths and weaknesses – Helen = it is part of the process and this show not the end of the work – you may remake and change accordingly
  • Helen = you need to put the whole thing into the space and see what happens, it’s part of the experience – can’t expect to know everything
  • Understand I can’t have total control – this is difficult. Gallery provides a respectful environment
  • There will be positive and negative responses and outcomes that you can’t calculate, be aware now
  • People will become part of the piece
  • After the experience – is this outcome what I want – what are the parameters?
  • Future work – is there pieces I have built and some that are packaged kits?
  • Let people experience an example piece – then have a kit they can buy?
  • use experience to become informed on how to get people to interact – post exhibit will give more clarity
  • Get images of what happens to work
  • IMG_6921
  • IMG_7121Be clear pieces are not to be taken
  • Experiencing how the components come together is what the viewer takes with them
  • Could I set up a 2nd camera to film what people do?
  • Future developement – inaccessible pieces; what happens when you can only think through building a piece – but can’t access it?
  • I am breaking down distance between looking and touching – breaks down conventions – find where I am comfortable
  • Try different scenarios – where it’s successful and where it is not
  • Light blue table works well with contrasting orange, makes work space comfortable – softens
  • Don’t be precious
  • Keep professional distance – look at work analytically – be honest with myself
  • Remember to see the good things that come out of this
  • Work is extremely well considered – really interesting
  • Making in studio is very different to making in public – it is a different process
  • Making film work helped to foresee how work would be interacted with
  • Film work allowed me to see how the inter-actors brain was working – could see Anna (model) wanting to create a braclet – but this is difficult because it will undo itself when it is short – Tacit knowledge – something you learn about the construction by doing
  • Next inter-actor would undo so they could make it work for them
  • There are certain ways the work needs to be constructed for it to be comfortable to wear – Helen = this is what jewellers have to deal with all the time – passing on the decisions you have to make to make something wearable – again this is tacit knowledge
  • Makers can become so obsessed with a piece they forget to consider someone has to wear it – its not an object that sits on a table
  • Build on the body – use a tailors dummy
  • There is a contradiction to what it means to make jewellery if it’s not wearable
  • Work has to have a relationship to the body – if it doesn’t it’s not jewellery – it may talk about jewellery but its not jewellery
  • Important to go back and build my own from the pieces that may not be interactive – rebuild so they are wearable
  • 2.kitset ring 7.kitset ring 9.kitset ring

24 Oct 2014

Skype 7


  • Film perfect, slow meditative, poetic
  • Should be looking at every detail
  • Don’t tell viewer everything
  • Loop
  • Trestle table top  – artificial working surface – neutral contrast
  • Tactile quality of table so it feels comfortable – like touching the table: sand and wax, lino, laminate, paint – enamel?? not shiny and new – silky and smooth
  • Colour of table – off grey? Warm? Warm tone from the table top in film – 2 surfaces relate
  • Monitor not too close
  • proportion of monitor to table top but scaled up – good way to tie things together – visually logical relationship
  • feel proportion as it takes up space – just as valid visually
  • simple chair or trestle bench or stool
  • do table first then chair

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4 October 2014

Skype 6

HB: “A visual experience of the complete situation”


  • Pulling everything together: film, containers, components, necklace, and what they sit on – look at everything equally, table needs to be clean and clear. Be clear on which table, which monitor I choose
  • Containers; can they be moved
  • Table – shape?
  • Table – surface, nice to work on, what is the finish of the surface? Colour?
  • Does the viewer sit or stand, audience needs to be comfortable – invited
  • Is it OK if people don’t engage??
  • What is left behind and the materiality
  • Gopro; hand models – different types of people; male, female, old, young, middle aged, familiar with my work, not familiar, confident , less confident…………
  • Press Releases……….materiality; having to deal with what’s left behind


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2014-10-18 14.34.51

Darcy Lange, A documentation of Bradford working life, 1974

Unstuck in Time, Te tuhi Gallery, October 2014



12 September 2014

Skype 5


Kitset ring drawing (2)_01

Kitset, Ring Drawing, 2014

Moving image;

Richard Maloy, As Many structures as I can, 2008

Lydia Chai, Arcs, 2008

3 September 2014


22 August 2014

Great interview with me at my studio thanks to The Jewellers Guild of Greater Sandringham                                         

19 August 2014

Package from Helen………….

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18 July 2014

Skype 4


  • Make components – have variables (try diff size threads and nuts)– keep it loose and raw – don’t remake, embrace materials as they are, response to materials as they are, embrace the colours of the metals and characteristics
  • When someone is working mechanically they are not concerned with how it looks but how practical it is
  • Play with cleaning up, leaving it as it is as I construct it or make it dirty – oily even- bringing back to shed and mechanics
  • Otto Kunsli’s neck piece in a container of red earth – leaving a mark on the wearers clothing
  • Consider how to present components so that are not easily stolen – film work is a way I want to explore getting around this
  • Is it important that every person that comes into the gallery interacts with the work? Need to experiment and experience to work this out
  • Filming and documenting – play with variables of who engages – and variables in the work it – how it is presented to them – is there instructions or not – is the 2nd or 3rd person invited to engage with the work viewable
  • Think about how to film – remember the focus is not on the person but what they do with the components
  • Focus on their hands – direct the camera towards what they are doing
  • Start thinking about film presentation – maybe on a digital photo frame within a vitrine or there might be multiple screens. Is it projected? Is the work constructed juxtaposed with the film
  • Helen always brainstorms outcomes way before the work is complete
  • Journal – think about catalogue of drawings from journal
  • Surface – creating a new surface that looks at how utensils where originally painted and try recreating, juxtapose this cleaner newer ‘glossy’ surface with the raw metal components. Let the new surface be scratched and effected by my own process or leave so it is subject to scratches and chips created with use over time.
  • Original wooden objects nostalgic, new paint moves away from this
  • Paint one side of ply before cutting up, process scratches and creates used aesthetic
  • Contrast created between fresh painted surface against rawness of metals
  • Worn aesthetic – been doing for a while – becoming tired of it and being fashionable now is problematic for me
  • We relate certain surfaces to particular places, times and experiences
  • Surfaces are created to meet the tastes of people at a certain times – why did we like brown and orange in the 70s, it comes down to the things we use everyday
  • Orange my favourite colour and probably so because of the nostalgia – analyse what I’m attracted to and why – often comes from early experience. This is evident in my beachcombing and how the surface these objects has influenced my work to date
  • Creating glossy painted surface good exercise to help me step out of comfort zone




27 June 2014

Skype 3

HB: “It’s important to revisit; experience since creates new perspective” 


  • Unconscious likes that are not concerned with jewellery
  • Practical intension of something doing something
  • Revisiting what has gone before creates a network of points of interest – field expands – paths cross
  • Explore one idea that expands in different ways
  • New and next is not what artistic practice is about
  • Intensity and integrity of a single investigation
  • Don’t be concerned with why I am using certain materials
  • Mystery is magical
  • Questioning is important but not because of the need to justify
  • Work needs to speak for itself – you can’t express everything in words –artistic practice works outside the limits of language because experience is not contained within language
  • HS2 = liberty to experiment – not justify or rationalise – protect that part of practice


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+Helen has a new article well worth reading in the latest Metalsmith magazine, Volume 34 Issue 3 – published in June

12 June 2014

Skype 2

HB: “Accessibility comes through educating people not changing to fit them”


  • Develop fearlessness of unconventionality – Accept that it may not be worn until it is understood
  • Make intense pieces then simple ones later
  • Nut/Bolt strong aesthetic – embrace or make own or use threaded bar – Choose right material for idea; rusty steel, paint, brass etc – Scale; large nut to small wood or large wood to small nut – Consider relationship of mechanism to material on top of aesthetic concerns
  • Mechanism – hidden or obvious – Consider roll of mechanism in relationship to material
  • Group what I have made in past with same problems to work out questions
  • Look at actual jewellery mechanisms – Remember to be aware of links to the language of jewellery
  • Start with a brooch pin (conventional or unconventional) – Explore pin just as much as brooch – List ways of attaching to garment to open up thinking
2014-09-10 15.57.44

Otto Kunzli – Terra Australia, Pendant leaves mark on garment.


Response 1_02Response 1_03

  • All components, mechanisms and material (wood compositions or pieces) become completely separated so the wearer has to complete a piece before wearing.
  • Is this too close to graduate work in 2010? – Shift is separating mechanism from material as opposed to inlaying it as an experiment to see whether it helps the wearer into the work easier. This is the first attempt addressing  accessibility issues with earlier work.
    Response 1_04

Response 1_05

+Helens latest exhibition at Galeria Antonella Villanova – there is a great image of her work juxtaposed with her drawing

10 June 2014

4.butterfly bolt1 11.mechanism collection

30 May 2014

Check out the following link for the fabulous conversation I had with Mary Curtis about the time she spent with Helen in Munich in 2007………….Questions for Mary…………….

Hand blown prosthetic glass eyes from the Lausher Glass museum

Hand blown prosthetic glass eyes from the Lausher Glass museum

29 May 2014

Fantastic first Skype session with Helen…………

Without a doubt, Helen is going to be an awesome mentor. To kick off our new relationship I briefly introduced myself to her and she did likewise sending me this image of her in her younger years……


And this is me with my husband in 2014……………

home and studio 2014 01.1

Helen is just back from Melbourne where she has her current exhibition Pairs of Pieces at Funaki

What we talked about…………

+ I’m interested in ‘Material Culture’ and one of my favourite books is The Comfort of Things by Daniel Miller – Helen in return suggests Material Historian, Manual De Landa’s, A Thousand Years of Non-linear History. Helen describes it as being about the movements of matter and energy through human populations and the impact this has on directing conventional history and that he doesn’t specifically reference domestic objects, but one could use his theories to do so.

+From this look at…………..

  • Consider the history of domestic objects and how they fall out of monumental history.
  • Communal eating – and the depth of the material I am working with.
  • Mechanisms – what’s its relationship to jewellery? Brainstorm.
  • Look at the very long history of wooden jewellery.

+ Presentation suggestion after discussing the difficulties of creating jewellery that is changeable in one way or another through the use of mechanisms……………….

  • Create a box of bits for viewer/wearer to experiment with (confirming my own thought pattern).
  • Experiment with complete lack of control, or giving instructions.
  • Work out the importance of my compositions.
  • Record my own feelings and expand possibilities.
  • Helen references Hermann Jűnger .

hermann junger

+On talking about the multiple layers and the ambiguity the layers create in my work………..

  • Ambiguity is good.
  • Helen creates works from feelings, experiences, and ideas.
  • Likes to be uncomfortable – not knowing what is going to happen.
  • Definition –set of parameters.
  • Learn from a finished piece then analyse.

+ Discussion about art training background………..

  • Helen started with a fine arts degree and then in her Honours year went into jewellery.
  • The Fine Arts, where she did textiles and copious amounts of drawing, taught her how to see.

+On talking about skill, I tell Helen how my metal work skills are lacking with my predominant use of wood………..

  • Helen reassures me that learning a skill as you need it is the way to go, if I have come to wood on my own – if it is me – stick to it, don’t worry about trends as I will over ride them.
  • Helen sees learning new skills as a point of resistance in Contemporary Jewellery at present.
  • Helen voiced her own ethics on skill and how she references traditional jewellery techniques in her work and when she has learnt a new one like engraving or setting a stone she does it till it becomes ingrained.

+Helen asks me if I look at other Contemporary work or whether I work more solitarily …………

  • I tend not to look at what other people are doing much because I am conscious that it may sit in my subconscious and then come out in what I make unwittingly.
  • Helen talks about style surfing and how it is better to visit actual exhibitions and touch, pick up the work and consider the tactile qualities.
  • It is important not to care about what others are doing, but to be aware.
  • Pursue my own thing.
  • And don’t be afraid to admit influences – they may not even be jewellers. This takes me back to Deborah Crowe’s encouragements when I was a student.

+Helen also talks about ………………..

  • Conceptual relationships in gallery’s, how they are not evident in jewellery.
  • Look at my position and where I sit.
  • There are 2 worlds; studio and exhibition, with a bridge in between .
  • Rising above people copying – good work will rise above that superficiality.

+What next…………..

  • We decide that a Skype session every 2 weeks (before Te Poneke in November) on Thursday or Friday.
  • Consider a theme to talk about for each coming skype session.
  • Helen would like 5-6 images of my work, studio or what I am working on…………

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16 May 2014

Let the fiddle begin …………..

Studio Detail

Studio Detail

Mechanism Device Manoeuvre
Puzzle Enigma Perplexing

2 thoughts on “Sarah Walker-Holt and Helen Britton”

  1. Hilda Gascard says:

    What a fantastic and fun introduction of your Mentorship.

  2. handshake2 says:

    Thanks Hilda, Helen is fantastic and really committed – i feel so lucky.

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