Film Screening and In Conversation: Space & Freedom
26 January 2024, 6.30–8pm
Join us at Kettle’s Yard for screenings of two films by artist filmmaker Helen Petts. Following the screening, Helen Petts will be in conversation with the curators of Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia & Friends, before a short piano set by Steve Beresford.
Space & Freedom (2019)
22’ stereo HD
Space & Freedom (2019) creatively explores Li Yuan-chia’s original plans for the LYC Museum and his relationship with the Cumbrian landscape. Originally commissioned by Manchester Art Gallery, the film is the result of extensive research into Li Yuan-chia’s own film archive. It mixes his 8mm footage, and previously undiscovered sound recordings, with contemporary HD footage and field recordings along with the musician Steve Beresford improvising with the images in a complex sound work.
Archive 8mm film and sound recordings courtesy of the Li Yuan-chia Foundation and The University of Manchester.
Throw Them Up and Let Them Sing: In the Footsteps of Kurt Schwitters (2012)
30’ 8mm and HD
Made for a solo exhibition and installation alongside Schwitters Merzbarn Wall at the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle. Helen Petts followed Kurt Schwitters’ route of exile from Nazi Germany to the uninhabited Norwegian island of Hjertøya and the nearby mountains and glaciers, then Elterwater in the Lake District where he created the Merzbarn. The film explores abstract rhythms, textures and sounds along the journey, often referencing Schwitters own art work. Featuring free improvisation musicians Sylvia Hallett, Adam Bohman, Phil Minton and Roger Turner, performing ‘Merz’ inspired music.
Made with financial assistance from Tyne & Wear Museums and the Arts Council England London 2012 Festival.
Helen Petts avoids historically fetishising Schwitters, electing instead to compose her film with the same combination of great care and mercurial randomness with which Schwitters made a collage or poem.
— David Briers, Art Monthly
Helen Petts is an artist film-maker who explores rhythm, texture, sound and chance events, both in the rural landscape and in her long standing relationship with the free improvisation music community. A former television director of arts programmes, she now regularly shows her artist films in festivals and gallery installations, both in the UK and internationally. She studied Fine Art at Goldsmith’s College and Film at Westminster University. Her work is distributed by Lux Artists Moving Image and is in the British Film Institute Artists Film Archive.
Steve Beresford is a free improviser performing on piano, electronics and toy instruments. He performs internationally, was awarded the Paul Hamlyn award for composers in 2012, but is also known for his long collaborative relationship with visual artist Christian Marclay. The book Pianos, Toys, Music and Noise – Conversations with Steve Beresford by Andy Hamilton, has recently been published by Bloomsbury.
Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia and Friends
Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia & Friends retraces Li’s commitment to fostering creativity, his interest in play and his investment in new ways of being in the world. Through the LYC, Li showcased Roman artefacts, works by major figures of British modernism, local artists and contemporary practices including kineticism, land art and video. The LYC’s children’s room provided a place for young people to experiment with art making, while craft workshops played host to communities of making. Much like Kettle’s Yard, the LYC also had a library, a garden, and spaces to socialise, transforming how we encounter art.
The exhibition puts the LYC into conversation with Kettle’s Yard. Both projects evolved over time, with collections (in the case of Kettle’s Yard) and exhibitions (in the case of the LYC) being shaped through friendships and personal affiliations, including with the artist Winifred Nicholson, who was an important presence at both the LYC and Kettle’s Yard.
Li’s practice – as both artist and organiser – is at the centre of the exhibition, along with those artists he exhibited at the LYC and those who were part of the cosmopolitan networks he enabled and enriched. Making New Worlds will also include works by contemporary artists reflecting on the afterlives of Li’s work in the present.
Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia and Friends has developed in partnership between Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art as part of its ‘London, Asia’ project, and is accompanied by a new publication produced by Kettle’s Yard and supported by Paul Mellon Centre.
It is co-curated by Hammad Nasar (Curator, Strategic advisor and Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre), Sarah Victoria Turner (Director of the Paul Mellon Centre) and Amy Tobin (Curator, contemporary programmes, Kettle’s Yard).
- The galleries, where exhibitions are shown, and all areas of the Clore Learning Studio (level -1) and Ede Room (level 2) are fully accessible.
- We have wheelchair accessible toilets on the lower ground, ground and first floor.
- There is a lift giving access to all floors located past the galleries, just beside the Clore Learning Studio on the ground floor.
- Kettle’s Yard welcomes assistance and service dogs in all areas.
- We have large-print versions of the wall text available.
- We can lend visitors small folding seats for taking around exhibitions or using at non-seated events. Please ask a Visitor Assistant for help finding a seat.