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Helaine Blumenfeld OBE:

The language of sculpture

5 October 2022 | 35 minutes

Photo: Henryk Hetflaisz

Renowned sculptor Helaine Blumenfeld continually re-invents herself in her search for a vocabulary of form.

Helaine’s work communicates on all levels: visual, tactile and emotional. She is well-known for her public art and her sculptures often seems weightless as she strives to portray something spiritual. Her work is a continuous journey of discovery and growth.

Helaine tells us about becoming an artist, her unstoppable urge to create and how she first came to Pietrasanta 50 years ago.

She now divides her working life between Pietrasanta, Italy, and Cambridge, UK and has been honoured in both countries. In 2007, she was the first woman to be awarded the prestigious ‘International Sculpture Prize: Pietrasanta and Versilia in the World’ and in 2011 was awarded an honorary OBE for services to the arts.

Helaine Blumenfeld, Tree of Life: Encounter, 2017, marble, commissioned for the Woolf Institute, Cambridge. Photo: Henryk Hetflaisz

In her recent exhibition, Intimacy and Isolation, Helaine explores beyond the level of personal relationships to our place in the world as her sculptures express what it means to be connected and to share perspectives.

Helaine Blumenfeld, Poesia Della Vita, 2022, marble. Photo: Erio Forli

Helaine Blumenfeld, The Light Within: Intimacy and Isolation, 2022, marble. Photo: Erio Forli

Helaine Blumenfeld, The Light Within: Hope, 2022, marble. Photo: Erio Forli

Helaine Blumenfeld, The Light Within: Aurora, 2022, marble. Photo: Erio Forli

Flame (below), is part of the outdoor exhibition of art in Pietrasanta placed on Via Oberdan.

Helaine Blumenfeld, Flame, 2015, bronze with granite base, positioned near Via Oberdan, Pietrasanta. Photo: Henryk Hetflaisz


Producer: Sarah Monk

Sound edit/design: Mike Axinn

Music: courtesy of Audio Network

  • Fading Colours 1596/2, by Paul Mottram


Helaine Blumenfeld (00:12):
I work very intuitively, I don’t know where I’m going when I start a new series, but once I’m in that series, I know that I’m going to continue it… In the same way that Brâncuși did or Giacometti, but they were perfectionists, so they just did the same piece again and again and again until they got it right. I never do that, but I do the same theme.

Sarah Monk (00:37):
Hi, this is Sarah with another episode of Materially Speaking, where artists tell their stories through the materials they choose. Today we’re meeting renowned sculptor, Helaine Blumenfeld, who continually reinvents herself in her search for a vocabulary of form. She divides her working life between Pietrasanta and Cambridge, and has been honored in both countries. In 2007, she was the first woman to be awarded the prestigious international sculpture prize, Pietrasanta and Versilia in the World, and in 2011, was awarded an honorary OBE for services to the arts.

Sarah Monk (01:12):
Her studios are tucked away in Pietrasanta in an artist enclave. We met in a heat wave, but Helaine’s studios were immersively cool, and none of us had any appetite to switch off the air conditioning.

Sarah Monk (01:24):
To the right, a calm seating area with a cream sofa and armchairs where we settled to chat. To the left in her studio, her works, in clay, bronze and marble, are displayed on plinths.

Sarah Monk (01:38):
Thank you very much for your time.

Helaine Blumenfeld (01:40):
No, I’ve been looking forward to it.

Sarah Monk (01:41):
Could I ask you to introduce yourself in your own words?

Helaine Blumenfeld (01:45):
I’m Helaine Blumenfeld, I’m a sculptor, I’ve been working in Pietrasanta for, goodness, more than 40 years. I can’t tell you exactly how long, a very long time, and Pietrasanta is a way of life.

Sarah Monk (01:58):
So what brought you here in the first place?

Helaine Blumenfeld (02:00):
I had a show in New York, and a collector who bought it said he didn’t like the casting, and my gallery, which was an Italian gallery, Bonino, said, "Well, you should go to Pietrasanta. There are any number of foundries, and they’re going to be a lot better than the one you used in England, and I think that’s what you’ve got to do." At first I said, "Well, I’m not going to do that for a collector," and they said, "Well, this is Norton Simon. He has a museum. It’s important that we put a beautiful piece there. Don’t be so arrogant." So I said, "Oh, well, okay, it’d be fun to go to Pietrasanta," and my husband and I went the first time, and we went to see the foundries that Bonino had suggested.

Helaine Blumenfeld (02:46):
Then I met someone really who also changed my life, a sculptor called Alicia Penalba, who I think is one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century, and still has not been properly recognized, but she became my mentor. She was born in Argentina, and she did everything. She did ceramic, she did jewelry, she did fashion design, she did wonderful sculptures, which many, many cities in America owned, all over the world, but she never was very interested in being known, and she influenced me in that direction as well. She said, "Never, never join up with one gallery, because they want to own you. They’ll tell you what to do and how to do it. You’ve got to really develop who you are, not how well you are known," and she was always changing galleries, and I thought that was a very good idea, but she’s the one who, when she saw my work, said, "You should be working in marble," and introduced me to Sam Ghelardini.

Sarah Monk (03:53):
So you came here really for the foundries?

Helaine Blumenfeld (03:55):
Yes, and ended up really for the marble. Once Alicia convinced me that I should work in marble, we went up to the quarries, we rented a car, and we found… There’s so much, and there is now, too, free marble. So we took some beautiful pieces of marble, got a suitcase, came back, and I think I even told you we got a baby carriage, because you couldn’t carry this, and brought it to the steps of the plane, and we had an extra seat for all of this stuff, and I tried to work it. I got chisels, I had watched the artisans, and I realized I couldn’t really do it. I needed to immerse myself in learning.

Helaine Blumenfeld (04:33):
Through Alicia, I probably wouldn’t have met Sam Ghelardini, who was a kind of institution in Pietrasanta. He was a person of such magnitude. Very tiny and very enormous. He then became, really, the changing force in my life, because he believed in me totally. When he first met me, he gave me a blank cheque and said, "Whenever you need money, this is here for you, as much as you need." He taught me how to carve. He said, "You’ve got to come back," which I did, and I worked with the artisans.

Helaine Blumenfeld (05:14):
In that period… I mean, this is now… 1972, so that’s 50 years ago. There were no women working with the artisans, and he felt I had to learn how to carve, I had to learn everything about it, and there was a tremendous resistance among these very tough men even to teach me, because… I had to really prove myself, which… What it meant really was always showing up when they did. If it was eight or in the summer, it might be earlier, taking no longer for the lunch break than they took, and really showing them through my work that they needed to respect me.

Sarah Monk (05:57):
Can you tell me what you’re doing on this trip?

Helaine Blumenfeld (06:00):
On this trip, I’ve been commissioned to do a sculpture for Cambridge University, because it is 50 years that I came to Pietrasanta. It was exactly 50 years ago in the autumn that the first class of women were admitted to Claire College and to Kings College. So they decided to commemorate this with the sculpture, and they’ve asked me to do it. So that’s what I’m working on now.

Sarah Monk (06:28):
The trip before?

Helaine Blumenfeld (06:30):
Last three trips before that, after the pandemic, when I came again, I began to realize that in all these years, I accumulated a studio which is as large as the ones I work in, even larger, was just models and molds of molds of pieces I’ve done in bronze, models of pieces that I’ve done in marble, and that because a very good friend of mine, Knut Steen, who was a Norwegian sculptor, died 10 years ago, the last 10 years, his daughter has spent trying to sort out all of his work, what to do with it, how to do it, and I thought, "Isn’t it wrong that we don’t, as sculptors, look after our own work, and at a moment when it could even be useful to us to see what we’ve done and what we should have rejected, and to make a judgment about, ‘Did we go with the right pieces?’, as our own vision changes?"

Helaine Blumenfeld (07:32):
So I was very excited about this, and so when I came back, half of the time, I was working on new pieces, but the other half, I’ve been working with my assistant, going through all the hundreds of pieces that I have in my big store room, and judging them, and realizing what my process is, and I’ve honored that. I usually do about 15, 20 pieces in a series before I decide which ones I’m going to carve and which ones I’m going to do in bronze.

Helaine Blumenfeld (08:05):
I don’t do them, "Oh, this is wonderful," because every piece I do, when I do it, I think it’s wonderful. This is in clay, and then if I think it’s good, I don’t save it in clay, I have it in plaster, and then I work the plaster infinitely to really find out, "Is this a good piece?", because it’s very rough when I give it to be molded.

Helaine Blumenfeld (08:27):
So going through it was fascinating, and discovering that in most cases, almost all cases, I made the right decisions about which pieces I did choose to do, but the ones leading up to it, some of them were really terrible, much too heavy, clumsy, not really working, but they got me there, and so I just started throwing away the plaster pieces of the ones that I had never done, because I’m not going to do them now. Am I, 50, 40 years later, 30 years later, going to start looking at piece and say, "Oh, I should have done it then"? Never, because I’m so much more advanced than I was then. So these pieces are redundant.

Helaine Blumenfeld (09:14):
What you see are the best pieces. As my assistant said, the masterpieces, the ‘Capo lavori’, and he said, "You know, what if an archivist comes to look," which someone will, "at your work? What they will conclude is, ‘Blumenfeld was amazing, she only did masterpieces!’" We’ve got to take one or two series where you just leave all of them so it can be seen how you got from an idea to the final three or four that you do, and so we’ve done that. So how did it feel getting rid of stuff?

Helaine Blumenfeld (09:48):
Well, it felt liberating. I felt very pleased to see… Almost never did I feel, "Oh, I should have done that one. I wouldn’t do it now, but I should have," and I didn’t feel pain in seeing it go on this great truckload of work that I threw away.

Helaine Blumenfeld (10:07):
I’ve always been probably too critical of what I’ve done, but I’ve become even more critical. Lots of pieces don’t get into plaster that would’ve before, because I’m now looking at it with a super critical eye. I’m taking my work a lot further in the plaster stage so when I get it roughed out, there’s less to do. So I’m looking at the plaster more as the finished piece than I did before. Being aware of the process has allowed me to control it more.

Helaine Blumenfeld (10:39):
One of the most amazing pieces I ever did was when we were filming, and they wanted me to do a clay model while I was filming. I said, "I can’t work with people watching me." After about an hour, I guess I just forgot that they were there, and when we finished that day, I wasn’t going to even keep the piece, but when I looked at it the next day, I thought, "Isn’t that amazing? This really could be a great piece," so I did go on with it, but that wasn’t at the end of the process. That was the beginning.

Helaine Blumenfeld (11:11):
When we were making the film, Hard Beauty, most of the time, different people interviewed me, mostly the director, but for one session, he couldn’t do it, and my son Remy said he would interview me. I’d had a show with Henry Moore in the eighties, and my son was interviewing me and he said, "It’s so interesting, because looking at your work from the eighties, how would you describe it?", he asked me, and so I said with very jagged edges, a lot of tension, probably pain, and he said, "How do you explain that?", and I started crying as I tried to explain it, because I realized that, okay, this was the eighties. It was when I started really working full time in Pietrasanta. I was sad now thinking about it, leaving my young family and realizing I sort of had a mission. I had to be doing this. It felt really as though these pieces had to be made and I had to live this life, and it was very painful for me, and so the pieces were not only fragmented, but groups were broken up into separate parts, edges were very broken, and that work was really reflecting how hard it was, as a young woman, to leave my family to find out, because I knew I couldn’t really work at home night and day, and I needed to do that.

Sarah Monk (12:40):
Well, you’re not alone in that feeling, I think, and a lot of women look up to you and respect you for the mentor that you’ve been to them. You’ve come up in most episodes, I think.

Helaine Blumenfeld (12:53):
So then, in fact, my son, the idea that he had was, it’d be very interesting to look at my work in terms of the decades and what it told about my life, because it is, of course, everything you do is sort of biographical. It’s also, if you go deeply enough into your own psyche, you do something that’s also universal, which is what really is important, because then you’re not just doing something that’s narrative and explanatory, you’re doing something that is going beyond that.

Helaine Blumenfeld (13:26):
I do think that every decade of my work shows another transition in what I’m thinking about, and I think up until probably in the last 10 years, my work was very personal. I think it’s now much more looking at the tragedy of the world we are living in, as well as the possibilities.

Helaine Blumenfeld (13:46):
One of the themes that’s gone through everything is this theme of intimacy, and intimacy began as perhaps intimacy with oneself, knowing who you are, and then moving into intimacy with another person and how that works, and then looking at intimacy with family and members of your family and how that relates, and at the moment, I’m looking at it as how we connect to each other. I did so many… Maybe 40 new pieces during the pandemic, and when I say 40 new pieces, that means 40 pieces that survived my own judgment, that they might have begun in clay and then they were destroyed, but 40 pieces that arrived because I felt they were good in plaster, and that was very hard during the pandemic to find someone who could cast this, and the person I’d been working with, he couldn’t drive, so I had to get someone to drive who had a taxi license and bring my clay models so he could do them and then pick them up again, and I had a very dear friend who has a taxi license who did this for me and said, "I’m not charging you, because it’s wonderful just to get out of the house."

Helaine Blumenfeld (15:05):
So in that period, I have these models which I couldn’t quite interpret them and what they meant, but I really believed in them. So when I first went back to Pietrasanta and started working on them, I completely understood them, because they are really about that light we carry within us that allows us to survive. It allows us every day to get up and feel some brightness, and it’s that light within us that, if we can find it and illuminate it, also can light someone else, and in terms of society, it’s also how we can relate by trying to find that common sense of effervescence and illumination that we have. I thought it was very creative. I was trying to help people to see that you can get through it by each of us finding out what would help us get through it, and everyone had something different, even if you were totally alone, but somehow expanding who you were, or you could just try to know who you were better by writing it… Not a diary, but just exploring what you felt.

Sarah Monk (16:22):
Can we go right back to the start, because it’s always good to start with where you were born and what sort of brought you into art. Why art? Let’s wait until the train goes.

Helaine Blumenfeld (16:44):
I don’t think I ever considered art. I think I always considered language. I never realized that we have so many languages and that, for me, the written word was not the language I should be pursuing, but for so many years, I felt words were what I was about, and I’ve said this before, but it’s very important to say again. I, as a very small child, would have very vivid dreams, but they were not tangible, I couldn’t describe them, I couldn’t explain what I was dreaming, and I think they had a lot to do with shape and form, and I would try to tell my parents what I dreamt, and they would just look at me. It sounded so banal, and I thought I just didn’t have the words. I was really in a pursuit of language, and it took me a very long time to realize that it wasn’t… I was looking in the wrong direction, and I think that did come in an almost immediate visionary way.

Helaine Blumenfeld (17:53):
I was a very good student, I was working on my PhD, and I was with my not yet husband, but we were in Naples and went to the national museum, and I suddenly was confronted with cycladic sculpture, which I’d never seen, and it’s so reductive, it’s so simple. There’s almost no feature, and yet if you look at a portrait, they’re just sort two or three inches and hollowed out very often. They have one feature perhaps, and the shape, and I saw that and it was just instant. I said to Yorick, "Wherever we end up, I’m going to do sculpture," and we ended up in Paris, and we got some clay in a place called [inaudible 00:18:44], which is a sort of wonderful art store, and I just started making sculptures, and I just couldn’t believe.

Helaine Blumenfeld (18:52):
It was like… You hear about people who can play the piano without ever having learned. I had such a sense of, "Wow, this is so beautiful, it’s so amazing. Where is this coming from?", and it seemed endless. I had a way of working, of simplifying form that’s very different from the cycladic, but that was very close to what I do now in terms of no back and no front, and I brought them to Beaux Arts, where they said they would accept me, but we had to pay right away for the term. We had no money, and the tutor who had interviewed me and accepted me said, "Well, I understand that, I can’t help you there, but if you go to la Grande Chaumière, they do you by the week," and that’s what we did.

Helaine Blumenfeld (19:40):
But I did make a small mistake, because I wanted to start as soon as possible, and they said to me, "When would you like to start?" I said, "Can I start tomorrow?" I think this was a Monday. So they said, "Oh yes, well, if you start tomorrow, you’re in the class of Marcel something." I said, "That’s fine." I didn’t think it mattered whose class I was in, but this was someone who was a real master of figurative technique and portraiture, very far from what I was interested in. It was the wrong class to be in. It was very difficult for me. First of all, I hardly spoke French. I certainly didn’t speak the language of sculpture, where people there had been working as sculptors for years, and I didn’t do the kind of work that they were doing, which was anatomical, and at the end of the first week, Marcel said to me, "I don’t expect you’re coming back." I said, "No, no, I’m coming back."

Helaine Blumenfeld (20:35):
I wasn’t about to give up, and then suddenly a very famous… The sculptor who’d been one of the main people at that la Grande Chaumière, Ossip Zadkine, came by and we had a shelf like that behind our coverlet, and we put all our models that we made there, and he came in periodically to just look at what was being done, and he said… I was the only girl, I think, this thing as well, and he said, "Oh, I love this young man’s work," and he said, "Ask him to come too" He did a sort of salon on Sundays in Rue d’Alsace, where his studio was. He said, "Tell him to come around." I was incredibly shy. Yorick was not going to be able to go with me, and I went and I heard somebody shout, "Come in," and I came in and he just looked at me, and he looked like a lion. He was a small, fierce man with a very red face and white hair that went out in every direction, and a big voice, and he shouted out in French when he saw me, "Who are you? No one told me you were a girl," but he was pleased I was a girl, and he liked me a lot. We talked, and he liked the work.

Helaine Blumenfeld (21:45):
So that day, he said, "Would you like to work with me?" I said, "Yes." "So be there tomorrow at eight. You have to tell me always you’ll be there at eight and stay till five." That was my rules. He hardly taught anything in terms of "do this" or "do that", and you work with a great sculpture and you learn by example. I had no idea that to be a sculptor meant that kind of commitment.

Sarah Monk (22:11):
I know it’s a very difficult question, but is there a way of describing your work?

Helaine Blumenfeld (22:17):
I am trying to portray something spiritual in my work. My work is very, very thin. Light can come through it now in marble, it’s very luminous. It seems almost weightless. People will look at something and think it can be lifted up like that, because it’s done so thin. I think in the last group of work, which is very much about the light within, there does seem to be a source of light emanating from within coming out.

Helaine Blumenfeld (22:51):
Someone called on… Who is a professor doing brain imaging, and he was doing a study of the center of the brain that dealt with beauty, and he came to me and said, would I be interested in doing something with the Welcome Institute showing a number of my most beautiful pieces and maybe having people look at them and having them sort of plugged into his scientific method of measuring, and his idea of what was beautiful in my work was very simple pieces that sort of soar upwards, and they are very spiritual, and they’re also sometimes very thin, and they’re apprehended instantly, but for me, my most beautiful pieces are the most complex ones where so many centers of your brain are types, many centers of memory. You look at it and something there you see and embrace, some place else. You see a sunset. It’s where a multitude of images come to you. Those are the beautiful ones. It doesn’t come like that. It comes over time, and every time you see it, that happens again.

Sarah Monk (24:10):
Can we speak about the intimacy and isolation at the Hignell?

Helaine Blumenfeld (24:14):
Well, the idea for the show was just going to be intimacy, and it started because just before the pandemic, I was to have the largest show I’ve ever had in my life at Canary Wharf, which was going to be 40 major retrospective pieces, large pieces in the lobby of Canada Square, One Canada Square. We called the show Looking Up. I was going to call it Towards the Precipice, because I felt so strongly that society was moving towards, really, a breakdown that we were just on near to a cliff where we could fall off, but that was such a negative title, and I’m not a negative person. I thought, "No, if we look up, maybe we won’t reach that precipice," because I think some of it did come from a complete breakdown in leadership, in community, in trust, and all the things that sustain us, and a lot of it came from, I think, an overcommitment to technology, where we don’t touch anymore, but that gave me the feeling that some of what was happening was showing us the way that we really needed to… How much it mattered to touch when you couldn’t. How much it mattered to be together when you could only talk on the phone, and how important society was to us.

Helaine Blumenfeld (25:38):
So I think a lot of the values that we were in danger of losing actually were brought very much into our consciousness during the pandemic. So anyways, given that, we wanted to do a small show at the gallery that would also be a kind of retrospective of what I then felt was the most important theme in terms of saving us from this precipice, which was intimacy, understanding it and reinstating it in a way. So that was meant to be just to show how through my entire career, I’ve done works that had to do with intimacy, but by the time we were able to do the show, which is now, the theme changed to intimacy and isolation, because I began to see that the two relate so closely to each other and that we all have a tendency towards both within us.

Sarah Monk (26:41):
I know you’ve done a lot of public commissions or commissions for public spaces. Are there any favorites… Or perhaps that’s the wrong word.

Helaine Blumenfeld (26:48):
Yes, there’s one total favorite, and it may be replaced, but it’s the one that I did recently for the Woolf Institute, and it’s in Cambridge. The Woolf Institute is a group that is trying to bring together Christians, Muslims and Jews, trying to get their perspective to be the same they have in Cambridge, their headquarters, and they were just doing a new building, and they asked me to do a sculpture for them, and I did a sculpture court, which is one of the Tree of Life series, but it begins with what looks like a trunk, which is in three different, very different parts, and it rises up and in a kind of unity, and through that unity, it spreads out into a tremendous sort of sense of blossoming and growth and a cloud, almost, of beauty, I think. It’s showing that if groups can work together instead of pulling apart, wonderful things can happen, and in fact, when I describe that to you, it’s very similar to the piece I’m doing for Cambridge University now, because… It’s not a tree of life, but it’s about the women’s movement and all the different figures that played a part in it, and also the crevices and the struggles and then the kind of power that comes from unity.

Sarah Monk (28:22):
Can you talk a little bit about public art and how you feel about it?

Helaine Blumenfeld (28:26):
I think that public art has changed so much. It’s such an important factor today. I think that public art before was just commemorative art. Now public art is counted on to define a space, to give it identity, to make it a civic part of the community, and the real hope is that people will feel they own a sculpture and the place. I’ve done so many public sculptures, I don’t know too many people who’ve done as many as I have, and I think it’s really important.

Helaine Blumenfeld (29:02):
It’s also so important for children, because they learn about form, and at Canary Wharf, this has been the great joy, because they play and you see the bases of my sculpture are completely worn away, the patina, because so many people have been inside them.

Sarah Monk (29:19):
I wanted to talk about legacy, but also going back to your being a mentor. You’ve talked a little bit about some of the mentors you had. How do you feel about being a mentor to other people?

Helaine Blumenfeld (29:37):
Well, I sometimes think I have too strong an effect on their work. It’s very hard, because I don’t think there is anything called originality. We use this word so loosely, but what does it really mean? Everything is influenced by something we’ve seen, something we’ve believed in, something that we’ve taken as our own.

Helaine Blumenfeld (30:00):
I started the program of mentoring for the Royal Society of Sculptors. I thought fellows should definitely have that obligation to agree to mentor people who wanted to, and so I mentored a number of people. One of them, she said, "I need mentoring because I don’t have my own voice, and I want you to help me find my voice." So I said, "Okay, but I have a condition. You have to work my way, then." So my way is working only in clay, doing many, many models, not feeling you want to take it further. You just want your ideas to come out. Finding a way of communicating through a very easy, malleable material so that there’s not a big struggle to get what you’re feeling into what you’re making.

Helaine Blumenfeld (30:48):
She agreed to try. Then I said, "Once you have a body of work you’ve made in clay, that’s the beginning." So then I never heard from her again for ages and ages, and I thought, "Well, that certainly discouraged her," but then she had been working all the time, but she was completely frustrated. She did a lot of pieces that were definitely what she was feeling, but they weren’t sculptures, and then we get to the point of where, when sculpture is too confessional, too narrative, it’s about who you are and what your problems are. It tells a lot about that, but it’s not a work of art. It’s not an object. It doesn’t become an object until it’s no longer personal. It doesn’t need you to explain it. It’s there for history.

Helaine Blumenfeld (31:36):
We went through a terribly difficult time with me saying, "Okay, once you’ve got it to the stage where it’s you, you’ve got to stand back and look at it and say, ‘Okay, what would make it a work of art?’" It’s not yet. You’ve got to be able to criticize it and change it, and that’s what she couldn’t do, because it was so personal, she was so proud of it that she felt she was destroying it. She couldn’t do that. It took a long time, but she finally did get past that, and then I said, "You’re on your own. I’m not there now. Now you’ve got to just do it."

Sarah Monk (32:13):
Is there anything else that you want to talk about?

Helaine Blumenfeld (32:20):
I think I have a couple of messages for sculptor,s. One is, I think, never, never ever worry about copying another artist or having an artist copy you. Just worry about copying yourself. I think that is really the pitfall, that sculptors find a way of doing something that people, that they’re happy about, and that people like and buy, and they get trapped by it. They don’t move out of their comfort zone when they have so many other ideas that they could also be doing.

Helaine Blumenfeld (32:53):
I think also, really find out who you are and if that’s your voice. That’s the only voice we have. It’s who we are and our individuality.

Helaine Blumenfeld (33:08):
I think I’ve always been someone who believed in taking risks, and I think that’s very, very important to take risks with what you do, take risks with how you see yourself, even, and not be afraid to change. I think that’s so important, but it’s so important, also, to find the right medium.

Helaine Blumenfeld (33:31):
I could have gone on trying to be a writer if I hadn’t understood at the right moment that that’s not what I should be doing. I certainly wasn’t very good as a painter, I mean, drawings, I had no talent, but suddenly, when you find out what you can do and do it, I think that’s so liberating of who you are too.

Sarah Monk (33:51):
So thanks to Helaine Blumenfeld. You can see her work on her website,, or on Instagram @helaineblumenfeldobe, and thanks to you for listening. As with all episodes, you can find photographs of the work discussed on our website,, or on Instagram. If you’re enjoying materially speaking, please subscribe to our newsletter on our website so we can let you know when the next episode goes live.

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