Helene Callesen

Helene Callesen

Helene Callesen blackclay
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Clay on Paper

DEATH stands above me, whispering low
I know not what into my ear;
Of his strange language all I know
Is, there is not a word of fear.
— Walter Savage Landor (1)

The English poet Walter Savage Landor speaks about a language that is lacking a word. Yes, despite this absence, the poet hears low whispers. This capacity to listen to one’s intuition characterises Helene Callesen oeuvre, which whispers and pulses CLAY. Callesen is passionate about the innate characteristics of clay. She finds and excavates the clay she uses, and has been on several study trips to investigate different clay cultures – both historic and contemporary. The artist uses this material in many unique ways - as a sculptural material, drawing and painting medium. In her work, this material appears to emanate life, as it drifts, heaves, and sweats with vitality.

Clay on Paper
The bulk of Callesen’s works on paper feature earthy hues, although the artist occasionally adds ‘synthetic’ highlights. While highly refined and delicate, these drawings maintain a robust anchoring in geological forms.

Callesen notes:
Clay is not just clay. There is no end to the different types of clay. The chemical parts of clay are different. Clay bodies also differ because of their histories, depending on the way they have been treated, naturally and
culturally.(2)

Over the past three years, she has developed a variety of processes of applying clay onto paper, which coaxes out ‘small gifts’ provided by nature – glittery flecks, ochre, or another element. The artist acknowledges the
agency of clay and explains,

In my work I have a curiosity for finding and using the expressions that is found in a certain types of clay. I take a step backwards and let the clay surprise me with the expressions that that comes from my different kinds of
treatment. (3)

1.Landor, W. S. Cited in English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald. Vol. XLI. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14.

2,3 Callesen, Nikolaj. 2015. About the Work of Helene Callesen. Unpublished Text. 28 September. 3 Ibid.


Helene Callesen (born 1981) is a ceramic artist based in Copenhagen.
She has studied ceramics at Aarhus Art Academy and The Danish Design School at Bornholm.


In 2016, she participated in the exhibition cont{R}act earth —First Central China International Ceramics Biennale, Henan Museum, Zhengzhou City, China, curated by Wendy Gers

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