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No Book Book Club #3


Experiments in Sonic Life Writing

with Helen Anahita Wilson

19 March 2024


The Horse Hospital

For our third No Book Book Club we had a fascinating performance & conversation with the award-winning composer and sound artist Helen Anahita Wilson who talked to us about her recent work bringing cancer treatment processes to life through sound and music.


Using repurposed and rewired chemotherapy pumps, bioelectricity from plants used in chemotherapy drugs, and South Indian rhythmic theories, Helen has created a portfolio of sonic works which challenges mainstream cultural representations of breast cancer, bypasses the problems of warfare-related language regarding cancer, and offers a groundbreaking new way of engaging with the body, health, and disease.

"Breathtaking" - The Wire

"Master musicianship" - World Music Central

Stunning...absolutely stunning" - BBC Radio 3

Helen began with a short presentation providing some background to her work and then followed that with "Krankenhausfunk and the extrinsic death receptor pathway" - a piece projected through 4 chemotherapy pumps that follows the breakdown of a cell and was composed in response to her own treatments  (as well as a less-than-positive experience with hospital radio.)

Following the performance, we talked more with Helen about her story and why she does what she does and finished with a wide ranging conversation that covered everything from her work with the Chelsea Physics Garden to the nuts and bolts of how she actually puts the music together.

All this was set within the historic and atmospheric London Horse Hospital, the site of a former hospital.  It could not have been a more perfect setting for the contemplative beauty of Helen's work and her own generous, easy-going good nature.

Click on the links below if you'd like to find out more  about Helen and her work:

Helen Anahita Wilson is an Oram Award-winning composer, sound artist, pianist, improviser, and practice-based researcher at SOAS University of London. Her compositional practice brings together her research in South Asian musics, especially South Indian rhythmic theories, with expressions of biomedical processes, interpretations of plant biodata, and experiments in sonic life writing: how to share biographical stories through sound.

Helen has toured extensively throughout Europe and India and works across a broad spectrum of disciplines from solo piano projects to live extended radio arts and plant-derived installations. Latest commissions include Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival hcmf//, Brighton Dome and Festival, Bloomsbury Festival, and her work has recently been featured on BBC Radio 4's Today, BBC 6Music, and New Scientist.

Tickbird&Rhino's No Book Book Club is what you get when you hold a book club but skip the book. Each evening we'll discover something new - it might be a talk, some art, a film or something found on-line. But whatever it is, it'll be interesting and accessible on the night. Then, like a book club, we'll lightly curate the conversation around it and get everyone talking.

To find out more about Tickbird&Rhino

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