Helena Hamilton

As part of our #afemalecomposerday campaign marking International Women's Day, we highlight the life and work of composer Helena Hamilton. 

Helena Hamilton- “Being a woman composer is strength- simply, just to do what you do - don’t retreat, believe in it.”

Described as an ‘artist who enriches the sonic with conceptual materialism through digital means’, Helena Hamilton experiments with sound through live events; she combines sonic experiences with photography, sculptures, and site-specific action, to create a platform for art as a multidimensional practice.

We spoke to Helena about how she has achieved her success so far, where she finds inspiration to create works, and how she identifies with the title ‘composer’. Here is what she had to say:

What was your route into composing?

I come from a fine art background, but I started working with sound in 2012 via experiments with durational sound performances using multiple tape players. Sound then slowly began to take a more influential role in my art practice. In 2014 I took an MA in Sonic Arts (2014), where I began to create fixed media compositions, interactive sound art and text based scores and I incorporate all of these into my art practice.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Through my multidisciplinary practice I often explore very minimal materials and everyday objects and happenings using different microphones e.g. the sound of a page turning, of footsteps, trains, electricity and also materials like chalk or plaster that I interact with…basically, I listen a lot.

Do you think the word composer adequately reflects you an artist? If not, what word does?

No. I call myself a visual/sound artist and I explore the visual through the sonic and vice versa - they are both inseparable and both influence the outcome of all my works.

I link the word ‘composer’ to musicians, which I am not - I see what I do as listening, working through and working out. Therefore, I don’t identify with the word ‘composer’. However, I do compose fixed sound pieces as well.


Helena Hamilton's British Music Collection profile can be found online here.


Composer Profile: Helena Hamilton