Palace Intrusions - The Lead Artists


Helen Ottaway

Composer / installation artist

Melanie Thompson M.A

Performer/ lecturer / consultant in collaborative art practice

Helen Ottaway was born in Oxford and studied music at University of London, Goldsmiths’ College.

As a student in the 1970’s she participated in courses and projects led by John Cage, also appearing in Peter Greenaway’s film on the composer for Channel 4, experiences which have hugely influenced her own work.

She was a founder member of the new music performance groups Regular Music and 3 or 4 Composers and also performed internationally with experimental theatre companies including Lumiere & Son and IOU.

As a composer who has a unique ability to place sounds within buildings and other environments, she has received commissions from Nottinghamshire County Council; The Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral; BBC2, Bath Film Festival and Frome Festival among others. She has been Composer in Residence for Salisbury Festival (‘In Praise of Trees’, 2001-2) and Frome Festival (2006).

In 1999, with her partner Arts Administrator Steve Ehrlicher, she formed Artmusic to produce and promote collaborative work between artists from different disciplines. With Artmusic she has created large scale installations, performances and educational projects for The National Review of Live Art, European Capital of Culture Cork 2005, Oxford Contemporary Music, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and many more. With sound designer Alastair Goolden she has become well known for creating movement-generated sound installations using Soundbeam technology.

Helen is currently composing music for live artist Franko B's new performance piece, 'I'm Thinking of You' which will premiere at the National Review of Live Art in Glasgow in February 2009. She has also been commissioned to create a new work for the re-launch of the Birmingham Arts Centre, mac.


Melanie Thompson originally came from London. She studied theatre and dance at Dartington College of Arts in Devon in the 1970’s, then joining international performance company Cardiff Laboratory Theatre in the 80’s. She then formed her own company ‘Intimate Strangers’ with Paul Roylance. The company toured nationally and internationally, and was supported by the Arts Council.

During this time she taught and directed experimental theatre for ten years at the ‘Tidens Theatre School’ in Århus Denmark.

In 1989 she moved to Somerset. Since then she has lectured part time at Dartington College and various other universities across the country.

In 1992 (the same year as she produced twin boys) she started a six year project with visual artist Kirsten Lavers. Together they produced 10 ‘Episodes’ across the U.K.

In 2000 she created ‘The Scallop Project’ with Jane Hazlewood, a year long residency in a small Somerset village culminating in a final days event. That year she also completed her M.A

From 2001 she has worked on three major public art projects as an art consultant and lead artist.

She has been touring a solo show since 2003 taking it to France, Canada and Norway as well performing it in G.B.

From 2005 - 2007 she was the Director of Tor Dance Festival.

In 2007 she set up a public art partnership - 'Shared Space' - with artist Bob Budd, which is committed to integrating art into public places and everyday environments.


photo credits:

photo of Helen Ottaway by Al Morrison
photo of Melanie Thompson by Kim von Coels
photo of Helen and Melanie by Steve Ehrlicher