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helen keen

Helen is a self-taught artist who has had a dedicated art practice since 1992 .


She is an artist and designer who has combined her passion for creating with exploring processes, colour and
texture; she is currently working in encaustic wax, mixed media, acrylic and oil.
Helen worked for many years in ceramics gaining recognition both nationally and internationally for the and delicate
quality of the work. Her domestic ware was distinguishable for its colour, design, lustrous finishes & finely thrown
‘body’. Detailing was of utmost importance and often her pieces were elevated with feet. Her 10 years potting was

about experiencing and hands on learning & teaching. This foundation and history underpins her continuing self-
taught art practice today.

“It has always been about teaching myself... being the teacher and the learner.” “More often than not – I am creating
something... no matter what material I have at hand to create with... creating is a daily ritual.” “I see artmaking as an
endless process ... a journey, or stories unfolding with infinite possibilities & infinite potential; the creating process
meets an on-tap supply of ideas.” “I feel the desire to explore and uncover the mysteries of art – through
abstraction, colour, gestures with the brush, textures, , mark making and incising as well as embedding objects.”
“Encaustic wax – is now my passion.... it’s an incredible material – not commonly used and made from beeswax and tree resin – it is unpredictable – which I love. The molten medium is painted onto a firm substrate as liquid, it quickly hardens and each layer is fused in with heat. It takes 6-12 months to fully cure and it is polished to create a glossy sheen.”


“The encaustic wax has a translucency and luminosity which gives the wax the appearance of a glaze - and it has
depth that no other painting material offers.” “Each layer of wax is fused to the previous layer and multiple layers
are bonded together with intense heat; I can add any number of layers – sometimes 50 – 70 layers!”
“The process is the ‘driver’ in my art practice - the unpredictability and nature of the wax and what happens during
the heating stage underpins my interest to blend, compliment and contrast colours, create textures and mark-make.

I most often don’t have any intention of what I am creating as I free form a design, reveal, cover and uncover, scratch
and sgraffito, embed and transfer images and objects into a piece.” “I do however, often embellish with genuine 24K
gold and silver leaf to form the finishing touches.”


Known and respected for inspiring others through her work as a primary and adult Art teacher, Helen has availed
herself to mentoring, work-shopping, private tutoring, artist-in- residence and teaching community groups. Her focus
since 2020 has been on building a body of work and enjoying being a full time practicing artist.

Helen resides in Auckland and lives on the coastline of the Manukau harbour – a peaceful and inspiring place to be to create stories.

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