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BLOWN DOWN: A long weekend of SUPER 8

Super 8 Sculpture Films by Ian Helliwell

Thu 7 June 2018 // 20:00

Tickets: £6 / £4 cons

Blown Down - A Long Weekend Of Super 8
7th to 10th June 2018

The Cube (a Microplex) and Super 8 (a film format) seems to be a pretty good match so we are having a weekend of Super 8 related screenings, events and fetes. Super 8 is a enduring piece of movie technology that's a joy to handle, loved by amateurs and holds a cherished past/future place in the heart of artists. Tonight focuses on the artist as maker and subject.

Super Access Weekender Tix only £14 or £10 on sale: https://www.headfirstbristol.co.uk/?bypass_cache=1#date=2018-06-07&event_id=45660

Super 8 Sculpture Films by Ian Helliwell
Bringing together modern sculpture, brutalist architecture and experimental electronic music, this fascinating series of films explores the early work of distinguished British sculptor William Pye.

Split-screen, animation, abstraction and documentary, are interwoven with Pye’s previously unscreened personal SUPER 8 material from the 1960s and 70s - Helliwell sifted through more than 70 SUPER 8mm reels, to make these films which reinterpret Pye’s original home movie footage.

Ian drew on his experience of editing and electronic music composing for over 100 films, and shot photos, video and SUPER 8 at London’s Southbank Centre and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to further illustrate Pye’s work. Pursuing his special interest in archive and found materials, and their presentation in different and inventive ways, all four of Helliwell’s films feature electronic soundtracks created with his Hellitron tone generators and Hellisizer synths, providing a fitting audio backdrop to the array of modern stainless steel sculptures.

Ian will be on hand to present and talk about the films and will also screen two other Sculpture films Ta Baby (1996) and The Motion Controllers (2009)

For more info on Pye and the films please read below:

Pye 1 - Kinetic (2017, 8`30) focuses on the 1970 ‘Kinetics’ exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London, reshaping Pye’s 200 feet reel of super 8 film he shot in and around the event. ‘Kinetics’ featured an international line up of more than 60 sculptors, and Pye’s work was represented by his remarkable Revolving Tower, which he later set up temporarily on Clapham Common, to the bewilderment and fascination of passers-by. Helliwell has identified all the
sculptures captured in the footage, and synthesized electronic sounds to accompany the kinetic activity of each one.

Pye 2 - Geometric (2017, 5`10) takes Pye’s super 8 footage for a proposed mural project, into a completely abstract direction, removing it  from its original purpose of simulating the interior of a London Underground station as a passenger descends into it. Pye had created paper models into which he could track with his super 8 camera, revealing a shifting geometry that suggested a different kind of abstract journey. With colour inversion,superimposition and electronic music, the functional footage takes on a new life of motion, colour and sound.

Pye 3 - Metallic (2017, 33`15) An examination of Pye’s stainless steel period of the late 1960s and early 70s, culminating with the fabrication and siting of his sculpture Zemran, on London’s Southbank. The archive super 8 of Pye at work, plus examples of his metal sculpture, is augmented with photos and new film and video shot by Helliwell. Interviewed especially for the soundtrack, Pye reflects on his output of the 60s and 70s, giving background and
insights into his working methods and life as a sculptor. Random vox pop comments recorded next to Zemran, and an array of Helliwell’s electronically generated sounds, add to the audiovisual tapestry woven around Pye’s modern and still futuristic looking stainless steel creations.

Pye 4 - Graphic (2017, 3`45) Utilising unused super 8 film shot for Pye 3, of the Zemran sculpture at the Southbank Centre, and Taylor’s Lane power station in West London, this footage has been drawn over with marker pens, immersed in bleach and played back in negative, to bring a wholly different perspective to the form of these impressive structures.

Ta Baby (1996, 3`20) With his friend, maverick Brighton artist Kevin Fogarty (1943-2015), Helliwell made a number of his early films, several of them documenting Fogarty’s outdoor sculptures. For Ta Baby, the sculptor is seen at work in his back yard preparing the components of his latest creation, and then assembling the final piece in Brighton’s Victoria Gardens, as part of the fringe events for the 1996 Brighton Festival. Helliwell made the soundtrack to the film with snippets of radio sounds and a formative Hellitron tone generator.

The Motion Controllers (2009, 5`30) Recording the moving junk sculpture of Brighton collective Circus Kinetica, this super 8 film was shot on the seafront near their studio in the summer of 2009, while many of their pieces were on display. Helliwell’s mixture of live action, stop motion and superimposition, captures these restless wind powered sculptures, and his soundtrack of experimental sounds adds a further sonic dimension.


A self-taught multi-media artist, Ian Helliwell works in music, film, animation, analogue electronics, instrument building, collage, installations, live performance, light show projection, writing and film programming. He has made over 100 short experimental films - one of the largest bodies of films in the world to feature electronic music soundtracks by one artist. With his ‘intuitive electronics’ approach, he has designed and built a unique range of tone generating instruments - Hellitrons and Hellisizers - which he uses to compose and record his music. In 2011 he completed his first feature length documentary film, Practical Electronica, looking at tape pioneer FC Judd, and his book Tape Leaders, an A-Z compendium of early British electronic music composers, published in 2016, represents a breakthrough in the research and understanding of UK electronic music history.