Una Hamilton Helle
Before the weekend Janina Totz and I arrived for an artist residency at PLATZprojekt, an autonomous zone in Hannover, which hosts social and cultural enterprises, a community garden, a gig and film space, sauna and Europe's largest DIY skatepark! Here till 2 Sep and really looking forward to engaging with the local community and see what we come up with in these inspiring surroundings.
For the last half year I’ve been working on a video commission for Home of Metal, a cultural project which looks at the origins of Heavy Metal in the Midlands. My work will be included in Alan Kane’s exhibition '4 Bed Detached Home of Metal' at New Art Gallery Walsall, which is part of a series of exhibitions in the region that celebrate the project’s tenth anniversary. Other artists in the exhibition include Jeremy Deller, Des Hughes, Jim Lambie, Sarah Lucas, Jessica Mallock, Mike Nelson, Simon Periton, David Shrigley, Mark Titchner, Hayley Tompkins, Cathy Ward, Charlie Woolley, Eric Wright and the collections of metal fans from the area.
The video focuses on the links between the historic leather trade in Walsall, local band Judas Priest, who introduced the leather look to heavy metal and queer leather culture. It’s been a really enjoyable research project with plenty of fan interviews, trips to the UK Leather Archive and Walsall's Leather Museum and it’s been such a joy working on the subject matter of one of my favourite bands. If you find yourself in the area do pop along to check it out - it opens this Saturday 22nd June - 1st September.
On behalf of Hal Silver, Joshua Bilton and I have been running workshops for recent graduates for the photography festival pic.london. We've been using storytelling games to construct a collective origin myth for the group and explored Pauline Oliveiros' Sound Meditations. Saturday is the last workshop and also see's us try pull together some of the work from Hal's archive at a talk which is open to all. More info here.
I have some work in Sorcery Press' first zine. The theme is Glossolalia. Check it out here.
The remaining dates for Waking the Witch, the touring exhibition I curated for Legion Projects, have been confirmed. The exhibition opens at Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury 10h May - 15th June and will tour to its final venue, Bonington Gallery in Nottingham, 27th September - 16th November. For more information and to watch & listen to some of the work, keep an eye on www.wakingthewitch.uk for updates.
Super excited to announce that I am part of a stellar line up of artists, poets and musicians that make up the People's Forest strand of programming for Waltham Forest Borough of Culture. Taking place on All Hallow's Eve, when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest, Becoming the Forest will invite people to take part in an audio journey populated by the voices of previous forest dwellers and visitors. Taking place at the threshold to Epping Forest, the tree-clad piece of land filled with stories, rumours and non-human beings, Becoming The Forest presents a sound-based installation at Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, celebrating the oncoming winter. Expect incantations made up of dark folk, beech tree divination, tree-biologists and forest historians, black metal screeches and field recordings of the forest. More info here.
Next month I'm taking part in ALEA, a group exhibition at Celsius Projects in Malmö, Sweden. The exhibition looks at Chance, Randomness and Determinism in play and is part of a their PLAY FORMS exhibition series. I'll be exhibiting my text-based adventure game installation Lair of the Neo-Diggers. The exhibition opens 29th March and will also feature the work of Filip Vest, Ívar Glói and Karin Granstrand.
Two Becoming the Forest-related events are coming up in the next few weeks. The first will be a gig I am organising with black metal publishers Cult Never Dies & Zero Tolerance Magazine, which sees Belgian doomsters Alkerdeel and eldritch black metallers Turia from the Netherlands play the Black Heart in Camden. That's on the 1st February - more info here. I'm also doing a reading of some of my writing from the BTF zine at a performance evening organised by Movement/Possession at SET in Dalston, the theme of which is the forest. That's on 6th Feb and more info here.
I wrote some more blog posts for a-n on a project I have been working on which looks at the relationship between coding and caving, gaming and the underground. Touching on board games, escape rooms, Larp and screen-based 3D graphics I've been trying to grapple with different game formats in which to fictionalise space and build a narrative journey through the subterranean. The blogs can be read here.
If you missed the OSE exhibition last weekend, The Anthro-Cephalopodic Amalgamation Institute's guided meditation is now available to download!
I'm just back from the Netherlands where I was commissioned by Baracca to create a piece for The Hague's monthly arts tour programme. Baracca is a roaming gallery space, with their current setup being a moveable 'lunch wagon'. The result was Heksenkeet, a voice-based sound installation which invoked the figure of the crone, the hag and the witch when a figure of fear. The voices were recorded during an improvised ritual I performed in a remote cabin under a full moon last winter. The garbled spells, glossolalia and cackling incantations could only be heard from outside of the wagon and provided both an absurd and creepy component in the middle of the city.
Next weekend it is back to Margate for the last time as Gut Feelings, the Open School East end of year show will be taking place. I will be exhibiting an installation room and guided meditation in which you can temporarily align your consciousness with a cephalopod. For details see the OSE website.
Today I was a guest on A Moment in Eternal Noise, a radio show run by artist Richard Evans, where Verity Birt and I spoke about the Waking the Witch exhibition, as well as the wider topics of witchcraft, feminism and art. The show will be aired on Resonance FM on 16th November, 8-9pm. On a similar note, the first podcast by Blue Firth, which is one of the Waking the Witch commissions, is now live - more info & streaming on the Waking the Witch website.
I'm just back from running Katabasis at Grenselandet LARP Festival in Oslo and its turning out to be a gaming-themed month. Tomorrow is the last workshop in a series of events on game design I've organised at Open School East, this one being about puzzle solving and Escape Room techniques. I've also started publishing a blog on the a-n website for my artist bursary project, in which I'll be learning how to make a virtual Dungeon Crawl. The first blog post is about my research into gaming and the subterranean and can be read here.
The last few months I have been busy organising Waking the Witch, a touring exhibition I have curated with Matthew Hughes as Legion Projects. The exhibition opened at Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown, Wales on the 15th Sep and features work and commissions by sixteen brilliant artists as well as loans from the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic, the Goddess Temple in Glastonbury and more. The exhibition will be touring to 3 other UK venues over the next year and a half and we'll be launching a catalogue in due course too. The exhibition's website is a beautifully hand drawn map commissioned by Ben Jeans Houghton, which will chart histories relating to witchcraft in the UK as the exhibition grows. You can visit the map and exhibition website here.
Last weekend also saw the event Earthly Delights happen, a two-day symposium dedicated to nature-related topics, which I organised with fellow Open School East Associates in the tranquil surroundings of the Garden Gate Project in Margate. I was excited to welcome curator Gina Buenfeld to hold a talk about her field research into animist cosmologies in the Amazon, with a following guided plant meditation. The third and final Earthly Delights date will be held on the 26th October, more info on the OSE website to come.
Looking forward to taking part in Expand and Contract: Navigating Undergrounds, a conference organised by artist Flora Parrott and geographer Harriet Hawkins, which will bring together geographers, artists and sound practitioners next Tuesday. I will be speaking about underground environments in gaming, and playing through sections of Katabasis, a Larp I co-created with Susan Ploetz & Francis Patrick Brady about two groups inhabiting an underground cave.
George Harding and I have started Margate Larp Sessions, an informal, monthly meet-up for play testing and discussing ideas centred around the tradition of Nordic Larp. Today, for our second session, we will have Nina Runa Essendrop visiting and we will play her larp Strangers - follow the facebook group for more info.
April saw the culmination of the first Open School East term, led by guest artist Marguerite Humeau. It saw us develop Strong Currents, a sound walk and sculpture trail along Botany Bay in Kent, images of which you can find here. Next week I'm doing a mini-residency at Limbo in Margate with fellow associates Tom Verity & Ian Bride, where it looks like I'll be testing out some of those Dungeon Crawl skills! Opening on the 11th May, more info here.
Excited to share that I have received an artist bursary from a-n which will go towards creating a virtual Dungeon Crawl installation. Hit me up if you know a computer programmer that might be able to help with old school game design software!
Becoming the Forest #3 is happening! Thanks to the Norwegian Arts Council, Lotte Brown and I have received funding to edit another issue about spruce trees, plant consciousness and notions around belonging – using black metal and the influence of place on music as a backbone to talk about it all. Watch this space for updates…we will be working in tree time.
On 6th May Susan Ploetz, Francis Patrick Brady and I will be running a version of Katabasis; our LARP about descents and origin myths. This will be running at Space Studios in London to coincide with Adam James’ solo exhibition there. Tickets available from their website.
Excited to be joining Open School East as an Associate Artist this year. OSE is a collaborative and experimental platform and studio for artistic making based in Margate, UK.