Helena van der Kraan is mostly known for photographing her friends, acquaintances and objects in natural daylight. Striking in most of her work is the grey background in which her subjects are portrayed. This is reminiscent of her surroundings in Czechoslovakia, where she grew up. Van der Kraan was admitted to the post-graduate course at the Ateliers ‘63 in Haarlem after having fled Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Over the past five years, Van der Kraan has photographed over 200 teddy bears. She has captured the distinctive personalities of each teddy bear by photographing in daylight with an analogue camera. “I choose teddy bears with marks of usage. These marks reveal that the teddy bear has been meaningful in a child’s life”, as Van der Kraan has explained. “They remind me of my own bear Bebbeba, which I briefly lost during the Prague Spring.” In the summer of 2020, there will be a retrospective exhibition “Bear & Teddy” at Fotomuseum Den Haag , The Hague.
Van der Kraan has exhibited at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague; Kunsthal, Rotterdam and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Her photography work has been included in the collections of Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and De Pont, Tilburg.