Image: Poleaxed, courtesy of Helen Petts and LUX, London
A programme of artist films exploring wellness, recovery and ageing. Selected to accompany A Picture of Health.
1996, 16mm, colour, stereo, 14 mins
Funded by the Arts Council of England.
A meditation on stillness and perception made during a long illness. A woman sits by the fountain in her local park. As the seasons change, she sees her life and the world around her clearly for the first time.
“A filmic essay on the restorative power of enforced solitude and stillness. Poleaxed describes the awakening of hope and clarity in a sometimes abstract flow of image and sound. Connecting with the internal landscapes of the central figure – a woman living with chronic fatigue – with an outer world of shifting colour, distant voices and nature’s transformation. Poleaxed suggests that the act of simply ‘being’ in a society where compulsive ‘doing’ is the norm can, of itself, be a struggle.” (Nik Houghton).
Helen Petts is an artist film-maker who explores rhythm, texture, sound and chance events, both in the landscape and in her long standing relationship with free improvisation musicians. A former television director, a road accident and subsequent disability resulted in her studying Fine Art at Goldsmith’s College. She is now regularly commissioned to make her artist films by galleries and festivals in the UK and abroad.
Photographer Anna Fox’s film of musician Linda Lunas is part of a long-time collaboration, accompanying a series of portraits of Lunas in A Picture of Health. In moving from photography to film, Fox creates space for Lunas to share, in her own words, her experience of mental health.
Born in 1961 and completing her degree in Audio Visual studies at The Surrey Institute, Farnham in 1986, Anna Fox has been working in photography and video for over thirty years. She has had solo exhibitions at The Photographer’s Gallery (London), The Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago), and the Shanghai Center of Photography, besides being included in many group exhibitions internationally. She is Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts at Farnham and leads the Fast Forward Women in Photography research project.
2020, 16mm hand processed B&W, animation / live action, 10 mins
Part-funded by Arnolfini.
The film is a reflection on exposure, and on change, of skin to sun and of film to light, and the environmental, social and hereditary factors that impact the aging process.
‘Textures of the skin filmed in extreme close up appear in single or short frame bursts, and, accompanied by percussive sounds, create a fast paced rhythmic journey around the surface of the body. This film is then seen at a later stage, as a filmstrip manually reexamined on a light box, alongside spoken analysis of the exposure times. Then, old photos of my mother, and her mother, on the beach, are seen in close-up. My mother and I share spoken memories about summer and change, in social customs, and to the climate. The DIY analogue film processing method gives this material a burnt brown look, while the inclusion of ‘mistakes’, such as fogged and scratched sections, emphasize the sense of exposure and damage to skin and to film material’.
Vicky Smith is an artist film maker and academic who was worked in experimental animation and 16mm film for 30 years. She has screened worked internationally in galleries and at festivals. Vicky was part of the London Film Makers Co-op, has a PhD in experimental film, is co-founder of the artist collective Bristol Experimental Expanded Film (BEEF), and lectures at the University for the Creative Arts London.
Songs Found Between Sky and Ground
Many Minds and Verity Standen
2020, documentation of Zoom performance, 10.23 mins
‘We’ve all been separated by lockdown, but there was a storm happening.
We have been going through the same storm.’
Over a 9 week period, Many Minds members and composer Verity Standen devised a series of melodies and performance about our experiences of the natural world during lockdown.
Members have been finding songs. In puddles and sparkling rivers, oak tree canopies and bluebell carpets, inspired by snuffling badgers, pretty little birdies and a big fat cat. We’ve found songs; in our breath, in the ropevines that have caught us and the heat on our sun-kissed skin.
The piece was co-composed and performed by Many Minds members and arranged by Verity Standen. It was presented as a live performance on Zoom on the 11 August 2020 to an audience of over 100 people from around the world. This film is taken from that online performance.
Many Minds are a Bristol based, mental health and performance charity that facilitate creative spaces and make performances that put people who identify with experiences of mental ill-health in the driver’s seat as a way to break down stigma and trigger generosity and equality. We are a member-led organisation founded by Viki Browne (Artistic Director) and Olivia Ware (Director) in 2017.
Verity Standen is a composer, director, performer and choir leader. Her work focuses on the human voice – gathering people together to sing and exploring different ways that people can experience music.
Musical Director: Verity Standen
Director: Viki Browne
Support Team: Olivia Ware, Laura Singer, Carlota Matos & M.
Artists: David Andrej Dubinin, Annie Cash, Anna Rathbone, Tabby Rodney, Molly B, Carina Andrews, Chris Shilvock, Philip J Naylor.