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Helen Martino


helen martino studioMy father was a captain of a merchant ship and we had a ship in a bottle at home and as a child it always fascinated me. I inherited one of those ships in a bottle and it has been here in my house while my kids grew up and it was a mystery to them too. We have never been tempted, any of us, to research how it is actually done. So it retains its mystery and fascination.

Recently I have been working on the magic impossibility of a ship in a bottle. How the boat gets in the bottle, the feeling of enclosure and the possibility/impossibility of the boat coming Ship in a bottleout to the freedom of the open sea. Of course the solidity of clay is very different to the transparent nature of glass but I have tried by layering up elements of the scene like a stage set to create an illusion of seeing through to an inside space. My aim is to contrast the perceived safety of existence within the bottle with the exciting lure of the open seas. In each bottle sculpture there is a bird symbolising the outside. Sometimes it is placed within the bottle somewhere on the boat or on the figure and sometimes on the neck of the bottle tempting the boat and the person to come out to freedom.

Golden sun boxHaving started my life as a functional potter making useful things on the wheel I still occasionally get a hankering to make something with a specific use. Having been thinking so much about inside and outside with the ships in a bottle I decided to make some little jewellery boxes. This box combines a sculptural landscape of tree, sun and sky as a lid and it rests on a leafy base which might contain something safely hidden. It functions well as a box and it’s golden and frivolous.




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