Helen Frik

Helen Frik, born 1960 in Worcester, UK, lives and works in Amsterdam, NL


Many different themes run throughout the ceramist Helen Frik’s works: Human failing, art’s inability to live up to life, how art’s role as a communicator of ideas often fails, how art can be seen as a mediator of getting the thoughts of the artist into the head of the viewer and lastly but importantly how suggestions and propositions as opposed to fact. But this is where the problems start: Imagery is open to interpretation and misreading. Frik’s ceramics deals with these problems as they investigate our inability to communicate and art’s inability to reflect this, the understandings and gaps in human knowledge. The reassuring dependability of the physical world - gravity, mass, form, material etc. opposed to the unquantifiable nature of human emotion.

    Helen Frik responds to clay as an artist rather than a ceramicist. Clay is another medium in her armory, a string to her bow. Her memories of observed details in museums, stately homes, kitchens and books mix with genres of things — a toast rack or a Roman cooking pot — as she makes what she refers to as associative translations. She compares the virgin block of clay to the blank sheet of paper, and clay modeling to drawing. 

    The objects she makes develop through the joys of investigation. Frik takes an all-around approach, unusual in the ceramic world. She has no aim to perfect a niche technique, and her approach is catholic, magpie. She has a splendid disregard for the preconceptions, orthodoxies and history of the medium. It is, for her, another outlet for the things in her head and her hands. The results are joyous, useful and useless. 


Helen Frik took her BA at Hons Brighton Polytechnic, Brighton, UK. She studied at Ateliers ’63, Haarlem, NL (1981-83), EKWC (European Ceramics Work Center), Den Bosch, NL (1992), and was artist in residence at Shirooni Studio, Onishi-Fujioka, Gunma perfecture, JP (2015). 


Selected solo-shows include The Trophy as Used by the Artist, Boujmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, NL (2015); Vindaloo at the “Taj Mahal”, Prinsessehof Museum, Leeuwaarden, NL (2014); Museum Boimans von Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, (2014); The Wall House, Gröningen, The Netherlands (2013); David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark (2011); and Chapter Arts Center, Cardiff, UK (2011).


Selected group exhibitions include Perusing the planks: Shelf Life, Galerie Nouvelles Images, Den Haag, NL (2016); Onishi Civic Center, Onishi-Fujioka, Gunma, JP (2015); Anything but Homeless: Drawings from the NOG collection, Stedelijk Museum Schiedanm, NL (2015); Anningjahoff Sculpture Park, Zwölle, The Netherlands (2013); Cock and Bull Gallery, London, UK (2013); and Schiedam Museum, the Netherlands, (2012).


Helen Frik is both artist and director of the Frik Collection Ceramic Museum.



Video: Helen Frik – Museum Boijmans van Beuningen