Helle Helsner

Helle Helsner
Studio 2
4 January to 9 January 

If these wings could draw.  

Near where I live there is a beach known as flaxfort. It has big tidal differences and can vary between walk on a narrow strip of stony beach at high tide to walking across the seabed to  the opposite village at low tide.  

It is one of my favourite places. It has all the things I desire. Rocks, stones, stone walls, rock pools. 

I walk in all weathers, early morning, first light, late evening – moon light. I walk quick walks - I take long leisurely walks. I take walks with sketchbooks – I sit for hours (or as long  as the dog will allow) I have conversations – I have entries in the wall where I leave my hope  and dreams. 

In short I love the place. It holds immense beauty to me. 

Besides having the tidal differences it also has two sides.  


To the left (as you stand facing the horizon) the roads runs along it and big leylandii trees stand majestically by the stone built wall. 

To the right however, runs a series of fields and somewhere in time someone decided to protect these fields from the erosion with a manmade tidal defence. 

It is quite possible the ugliest tidal defence ever seen, starting off with big boulders and then years of additional large scale building materials – it cuts through the landscape and is visible for miles. It’s kind of wonder that no one has reported it – myself included. However, there is something in this ill thought trough defence – the massive concrete blocks and other building materials that fascinates me. The way nature finds its way around it . Plants  growing over them, the sea bashing them and breaking them up. The utter uselessness  against the powers of the sea who still undeterred eats away at the costal line, so that every time a storm has past, more land is lost as are the materials mean to fend the waves off. 

On this beach other things live too- particularly an array of seabirds. 

When we come along and disturb them they take flight but leaves behind traces. Footprints, bird droppings but also their feathers. And so over a period of time I have been collecting  these. I now have quite the collections and so feel I have collected my winged friends and wonder what they would tell me about this place if they could draw. 

Quills have been used for centuries as instruments of mark making – I would like to give  each of my feather a chance to draw its own comment on what it sees. 

For now the idea is to let each feather do a line or drawing, preferable using ink or paint made from the sea. I hope to just use one large piece of paper situated on the ground – the  feather may or may not be suspended before or after use by my Japanese silver silk string, that made its way to me during the first lockdown by the sea as there were no planes going  out of Japan. It took 4 months to arrive! 

As my work is always fluid I cant quite predict how the experiment will pan out but that is like flaxfort….you never quite know what you are going to get except some beauty always  comes out of it. 

Helle Helsner – No Stone Left Unturned 

Helle Helsner’s work communicates connections to land and place. Her works selected for this solo exhibition communicate how land carries memories, both subjective and collective. These remembrances are both historical and geological, recent and ancient. We are invited into her works to explore what earth and landscape hold; how it is shaped by us and how we are shaped by the land. Her work excavates through drawing, paint, and sculpture our connections with terrain and our lived spaces. It asks us to become aware of what lies all around us as signals to the past and to the future. Her work, both figurative and abstract, ask us generously to reassess our connection to place and our lives in real, emotive, and imaginative terms. 

From current solo show in Sternview Gallery

WCAC acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council and Cork County Council in making these residencies possible.


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