New Taproom Exhibition: Helen Johannessen Ceramics

Textures of Time

Last week we welcomed a new exhibition to our Taproom wall. Curated by Helen Johannesen, a local ceramist, the wall installation pieces showcase how she explores solidifying liquid clay through casting, mark making with coloured slip clay using screen printing or other methods that all contribute to the on going development of her work. The pieces displayed make up an installation called Textures of Time, evoking a sense of place or journey. It’s so fun having another different medium on the wall, Helen’s pieces truly change throughout the day depending on how the light is hitting them through the window and we encourage you to get up close to fully appreciate the intricacies and detail of each piece… just no touching, please!

We sat down with Helen to find out a bit more about her and her work…

Helen, tell us a bit about yourself…

I graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2017 with a Masters in Ceramics & Glass and was then awarded a scholarship to study in Konstfack Art School Stockholm in 2018. This year I have received the Zsuzsi Roboz Schlolarship at Morley College where I will be developing new work for a gallery installation exhibition in September 2020. Previously I ran a ceramic design business Yoyo Ceramics for 15 years. I’ve lived in Peckham for 8 years now, I have a studio at Cockpit Arts, Holborn so it’s a bike ride through the park and over the bridge.

What is your background and where did you grow up?

I was born in Croydon, my father is Norwegian and my mother was born in Bow and brought up in the Isle of Dogs – so two contrasting backgrounds! As a family, we then moved all around the U.K; the West Country, the east and the Midlands before I settled back in London 1991 when I studied at Middlesex University Ceramic BAHons. I’ve worked in the film industry as a model maker and have taught creative subjects in Universities since 1999 part time.

What does a typical day look like for you…

I have no fixed routine really, other than when I teach. I enjoy being a free spirit and changing my plans of a day or having them changed because that’s how life can be. It’s the benefits of working for yourself. I’ll probably either hop on my bike to my studio or to teach, or walk to gain a different perspective on life and slow the pace down a bit – London can feel a bit frenetic for me sometimes it’s its’ charm – and occasional drawback if you’re not in the mood for it!

How do you like to work?

I share my studio space which I enjoy, if I worked on my own I’d probably never switch off! I enjoy the sociability and community nature of my studios. Despite my work being usually clean lined and minimal, I work in a bit of a chaotic state, ceramics is messy and I am too . Weirdly, I like it that way, if everything is in its place I feel distant from it. My mind whirs best in an energetic surrounding.

What/who inspires you and your work?

I’ve always admired Brigit Riley and her ability to displace you with her paintings. The huge ceramic of Jun Kaneko for their graphic and sculptural qualities. I enjoy light and the natural shift throughout the day, especially on the bridges when I cycle over them.

Where or what is your favourite spot in South East London?

Always a view, so up a hill or Franks rooftop bar, I enjoy the the varying views around Peckham and Camberwell, just dipping down streets and seeing all the amazing buildings and architecture. The South London Gallery is also a lovely place to visit regularly, having fun exhibits on. 

Helen’s work will be displayed until mid-October.

See more of her work here: helenjohannessen.co.uk and helenjohceramics