Link to my art portfolio blog


My art portfolio blog


At the Nature v. Humans Exhibition Victoria Gallery Liverpool

Coronavirus 2020

The Nature v. Humans exhibition included works by JMW Turner, Cornelia Parker, Adrien Henri and myself – Helen Birnbaum. I will also conducted Design your own Microbe sessions  as part of the Victoria’s workshop season.

Coronavirus 2020 has since been purchased by the Victoria Gallery & Museum and is part of their Permanent Collection of artworks.

Terra Firma Leaky Boat

130 ceramic hands gather around hoping to get onto a leaky boat (a reclaimed wheelbarrow from a local wood).  This work was made in response to the Eco refugee crisis that the world faces. The majority of the hands were made in unglazed single fired brown, black and white clay, but a few are taller and glazed in bright colours – these hands represent hope.  

Terra Firma Leaky Boat was exhibited in Glasgow during Cop 26 at a climate change exhibition with Project Ability. 

One large, craggy hand holding a blue glass sphere represents our fragile planet whilst tall, brightly glazed hands guide us through the crowd; both signify hope.

If you would like to see the accompanying film of the installation please click on the link shown below.

Film of the hands set to the sound of waves


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CERAMIC Transmission

In this work I have created sounds that encourage people to wait, to listen and think about the sculptures they see. Originally the sculptures were designed to be touched, but in the Covid environment QR Codes enable viewers to access the sounds hidden within the works without having to touch them.  Use a QR code app. on your phone to hear the sounds yourself.

The different theories described and the curious sounds that accompany them.

Divine Judgment

Epidemics may have been rare but they became terrifying once population density increased.   Listen to a spooky rendition of Ring a Roses all about the Black Death pandemic.  Sound Credit:  Jade Brown


Bad Air

A pathological state of the atmosphere was associated with infectious diseases and this became the miasma theory of contagion.  I chose the model of a balloon decorated with Tuberculosis bacteria and suggestively full of bad air.  Sound Credit: Soundliketube

Germ Theory

In 1862 the French chemist Louis Pasteur proposed a germ theory supporting that microorganisms are the cause of diseases. Listen to a sneeze when you touch the hands or use your QR Code reader.  Sound CreditMotion Array Youtube


Web of Causation

Web of Causation describes how a multitude of different people, social and physiological environments now make up the way in which disease is passed from one person to another. The evocative sound of an airport announcement is a symbol of movement in the modern world.  Sound Credit: Maldera Film. Youtube


Pandemic slide show

CERAMIC Transmission 100 Hands starts with a photographic journey around Skelmersdale from lovely countryside pockmarked with old mine workings to quiet housing estates, closed shops, neglected Modernist sculpture and Kentucky Fried Chicken quarantine apology signs. The final work will be installed and filmed outside the local Catholic church and the film will be intercut with interviews with family and immediate neighbours about their experience of Lockdown. Here I am sitting in my garden during Lockdown.

The virus who came to tea

Great to be involved in the Virus who came to Tea Instagram digital exhibition @r_is_n.projects because it gives me the chance to show a more carefree approach to my work. Here are a few of my ceramic hands usually installed in town and country environments, but this time arranged with a plastic monster toy, old fashioned flower presses and my favourite 1930’s teapot.  Take a look at more of these on my own Instagram @helenbirnbaumceramics. Enjoy.



100 Hands

The 100 Hands installation was  made in remembrance of the Covid pandemic in 2020 and installed outside a local church to symbolise the effect of the pandemic on communities.  I chose to make hands because they have been used by artists for centuries as evocative symbols of humanity and  I made my hands in different clay colours to emphasise  the shared universal loss. The image below shows church workers coming to open up their church on the day before it was opened for a prayer. They felt that the hands were an apt and reverent symbol and were pleased to be photographed with the work. The church workers symbolise healing and a new life.

The 100 Hands  represent community; in my photographs this is a silent community unable to be in its usual places and in the film the hands outside the church represent a community waiting to open the doors. We all recognise just how important our hands are to us and in this time of quarantine there is a sadness in out relationship with the hands that we cannot use to touch things surfaces and those we love for fear of infection.

Installing 100 Hands outside the local church

Slipping through the net

Inspired by our lacklustre approach to the Coronavirus epidemic this work is called Slipping through the net. The many viruses are portrayed as coloured balls clustered around the base of the basket ball net and are accompanied by the Coronavirus poking its tongue out at us knowing that at first we did not pay it enough attention.

Coronavirus 2020

The Coronavirus 2020  forms part of the Nature v. Humans exhibition at the Victoria Gallery Liverpool. The Covid 19 appear to be spinning in space.  Here are the separate viruses.