Bishop Bacteriophage

BISHOPS traditionally represent the power of the church and spirituality. The Bishop can move any number of squares only diagonally and cannot jump over any pieces. In the game of  OUTBREAK they are represented by bacteriophages.


Bacteriophages Phage therapy or viral phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages to treat pathogenic bacterial infections. They are created from within a cell’s own DNA.

Related image

Queen T.B. Tuberculosis

A very important player who can travel wherever she wants on the OUTBREAK  board, but she cannot jump over any pieces. The Queen is represented by T.B.



T.B. – Tuberculosis

The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. You have a higher chance of getting TB disease, once infected, if you have HIV.

Image result for tb virus images



An earlier edition of this work  when the pieces were all a similar size and I had not added the bright red blood cell pawns.  I  developed this work by making certain of the pieces larger to emphasise their significance and potential danger, for example the KING HIV& AID’s is now significantly taller and the Queen TB is also a much larger and dramatic figure. At the same time I added screen print slogans and statements about viruses – see below – to emphasise the impact that viruses have on the lives of those suffering with them.


Sensible footwear

The chilly blue feet belie the affection with which they were made. One foot holds firmly onto the surface and the other moves up in anticipation of what is ahead.  In the version shown below the anticipatory feet have the advantage of being plugged in to a source of power.














This is one of my own feet glazed in cheerful yellow to suggest a sunny outlook, with a contrasting blue thought bubble (this is meant to suggest bubbling ideas, but sometimes blue?)

My foot




Pandora's Boxes

Pandora in her golden glasses holds the key to unlocking her boxes. Do the glasses mean that she is blinded to what is inside or to protect her from it? The sharp corners of the boxes are in contrast with the African inspired Pandora figure. The glasses are decorated in gold lustre.

In the partner piece, Finishing Line , the tired figure on her 1970’s Space Hopper has finished her happy journey.



  • Solo Exhibition OUTBREAK at STEAM, Wigan
  • Gender fluidity at FaB Bath Arts Festival
  • Northern Potters’ Exhibition, University of Central Lancashire, Preston


  • Royal Cambrian Open Art competition, Conwy
  • Warrington Contemporary Open
  • West Lancashire Open Art competition, Chapel Gallery
  • Black and White, Arthouse Southport Community
  • Artist of the month, Arthouse SCA
  • Microscopic ceramics at Southport Arts Festival
  • Phil Redmond’s Auction in support of BabyGrow 
  • Loughborough Makers’ Market with Northern Potters
  • White and Black at FaB Bath Arts Festival
  • Clay Collective, Platform Gallery, Clitheroe


  • Art with a Heart exhibition, Altrincham, Cheshire
  • Northern Potters’ Exhibition, UCLAN, Preston


  • West Lancashire Arts Open exhibition, Chapel Gallery


  • West Lancashire Arts Open Competition, Chapel Gallery


  • MA Art and design degree show, UCLAN


  • In my Liverpool Home installation,  Skelmersdale


  • BTEC exhibition, SCOLA gallery, Sutton, Surrey

2000 – 08

  • Student exhibitions, SCOLA
  • Open College certificate exhibition, SCOLA gallery



  • 2017 Featured artist in A5 magazine
  • 2017 Work featured in Average Art professional art magazine
  • 2017 Appear in the COCA (Centre for Ceramic Art) website,  Rethink Ceramics
  • 2016 Work featured in Average Art professional art magazine
  • 2016 NPA News
  • 2015 NPA News
  • 2013 MA thesis on public art and New Town development archived in the National Gallery and National Library of Australia

About Helen Birnbaum

blog photo

Art that can turn a smile into a shiver? Helen Birnbaum’s ideas come from looking at microscopic images of plants and viruses, interesting people and animals.  She has exhibited her thought provoking and humorous work throughout the UK. Helen  lives in Skelmersdale (a 1960’s New Town), Lancashire where she works on her ceramics and helps to run the Treehouse art gallery.

Before this…

2012 MA Merit in Ceramic Art & Design, UCLAN

2013 MA thesis  archived by the National Gallery & Library of Australia

2014/2015 AA2A Ceramics residency at Liverpool Hope University

2013 Place offered /PhD Ceramics MMU

2015 Advocate for Foundation for Art & Creative Technology Liverpool Advocate

2008 Design Crafts BTEC Level 3  Distinction

2005 Adult Literacy Learner Support Level 2


Also, an experienced project manager, with excellent communications, team building and change management skills. Expertise in business planning and financial management, including the development of business cases, budgeting and financial forecasting.