HELEN OTTAWAYComposer, pianist, sound artist, teacher and curator

As a composer and creator of site specific installations and performances, my work embraces theatre, choreography, collaboration, mapping and documenting. I find inspiration in beauty, statistics, coincidence and a sense of place.

I have always been interested in the physical aspects of music making, particularly the moment when gesture becomes sound. My early compositions with the writing and performing group 3 or 4 Composers were presented in a theatrical format with particular focus on the physicality and gestural qualities of performance.

With Artmusic, formed in 1999, I have continued to collaborate with artists from other disciplines creating site specific and interactive work in urban and rural landscapes for festivals and venues across the UK and abroad.

Commissions include Salisbury Cathedral, BBC2, Bath Film Festival and Inside Out Dorset and my work has been performed in many locations including the ICA, London, a disused quarry in East Mendip and a remote Dorset woodland.

Collaborators include performance artist Franko B (I’m Thinking of You toured to cities across Europe between 2009 and 2018), Theatre Group 30 Bird (Chodzenie-Siberia), visual artist Roswitha Gerlitz (Moments of Being) and sound designer Alastair Goolden (numerous sound installations with Artmusic).

In 2017 I was invited to take part in the Sura Medura International artists residency in Sri Lanka. Coming soon after the death of my mother, the residency provided the opportunity to explore ideas of loss and absence in my work, producing a series of sketches towards a large scale work – a new kind of requiem.

I began writing for a hand wound musical box, creating scores of ever increasing length including ‘Wind and Unwind’, for musical box and voice with a 15 metre punched paper score, commissioned by Inside Out Dorset for Dorset Moon in Sherborne Abbey, July 2019.

Also in 2019 I was invited by Black Swan Arts in Frome to curate a season of Sound Art. LISTEN ran from July to September and included concerts, exhibitions, workshops, installations, talks and walks.

Recent work has focussed on the natural world and endangered species. The Bee who Loves Blackberries was commissioned as part of the Fifty Bees exhibition of 2019 at Taunton Brewhouse and a new string octet, White Storks was commissioned by Shipley Festival and the Bernardi Music Group and performed and premiered by Zoom in July 2020.

Popular FAQ's

I teach the piano in Frome, any age from beginner to grade 8.

Yes, I welcome opp;ortunities to collaborate both as lead artist with Artmusic and as an independent composer and sound artist.

By phone or email

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