Helen Petts Plus

London and Yorkshire, U.K.

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Helen Petts is a British artist film-maker who for the last 7 years has concentrated on working within the experimental and free improvised music scene both, in the UK and in mainland Europe. Her work has been screened in galleries, museums and international music festivals. She also has a hugely popular Youtube site - helentonic - devoted to showing this work plus live performances. youtube.com/helentonic
She runs Mopomoso free improvisation night in London with guitarist John Russell, which gives her great access to many musicians from all over the world. She says she is interested in filming the music itself and the moment of improvisation rather than just documenting the performance. This can result in extreme close-ups of textures and rhythms in an abstract equivalence of the music.

In 2012 she completed a film following the route of artist Kurt Schwitters, who escaped Nazi Germany to live on Hjertoya island near Molde in Norway and then to Ambleside in the British Lake District. This film, entitled “Throw Them Up and Let Them Sing” a term used by Schwitters to describe how he created his work, was a commission for the Cultural Olympiad – the arts festival of the 2012 Olympic Games. This film features improvised sounds and images from Turner and Minton as well as Sylvia Hallett and Adam Bohman. It was shown as an installation in the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle in a solo exhibition alongside Schwitters' Merzbarn Wall, the Royal Festival Hall, London, Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal alongside their Schwitters' collection, Tate Britain as part of the Schwitters in Britain exhibition events, Trøndelag Senter for Samtidskunst, Trondheim, Møre and Romsdal Centre for Contemporary Art, Molde, Norway. If you would like to see this work which is on a private link, send an email for the password to helenpetts@clara.co.uk.

In 2013 Helen Petts completed Solo Soprano, a film about saxophonist Lol Coxhill, commissioned by the Full of Noises Festival in Cumbria. More info on helenpetts.com.
These works are password protected. Curators and festival promoters please write and request to see them. helenpetts@clara.co.uk

Helen Petts would like to acknowledge the support of an Arts Admin fellowship in development of this work, the Arts Council of England Unlimited programme for funding for the Schwitters film and Lottery funding for Solo Soprano.

More info and links to press articles on website

External Links


  1. Film London
  2. Octopus Collective
  3. Serpentine Galleries
  4. Sound and Music
  5. Yorkshire Sculpture Park