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

Image Gallery

Member Details


Latest News & Blog

  • Place Matters Report Sees Most LEPs In England Prioritising Creative Industries

    A report commissioned by industry members of the Creative Industries Council (CIC) from Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy has analysed how local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England treat supporting the creative industries as a priority. To boost the growth of place-based creative industries which impact on the local and national economy as well

    June 29, 2022
  • New funding to help spur more global success for UK’s independent film, TV and video games

    The Government is confirming its UK Global Screen Fund will be extended for three years with additional funding of £21 million, which will support the industry to continue growing the economy and providing high wage, high skilled jobs for people in the UK. This follows a successful £7 million trial, which supported more than 65

    June 22, 2022
  • Creative Places – Supporting Your Local Creative Economy

    As the UK faces the challenges of the 21st century, creativity has a role to play in shaping our response to climate change, globalisation and technological innovation – and in enabling the economy and society to ‘bounce forwards’ from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This document is designed to help councils understand the creative

    June 22, 2022

Why join SABCA as a member


By uniting & connecting with each other we can show gov & local councils that support & investment is key to economic & social success & the happiness of our communities.


People & other creatives want to get involved. Whether booking a band, learning something or joining an active group in their community. Let’s help them discover the rich arts & culture of Somerset.


By joining you get access to regular updates on funding and grants, programmes, collaborations, events, opportunities & more. Plus ask our team what support you need. 


The arts and culture eco-system is made up of of many local people, places & orgs. Let’s help other creative orgs & people find others that can bring arts & culture to all who live, work and play here.

This website uses cookies and collects basic user data to enhance your browsing experience.