Helen Ainsworth London, United Kingdom
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With 20 years of puppetry performance, my practice is centred on a somatic exploration of the philosophy of manipulation and being, facillitated through water and the elements. Integrating somatic practice, philosophy, manipulation of objects and environmental awareness, my performative art practice challenges conventional investigative methodology by exploring the limits of puppetry and thought.

After two decades of experience as an alternative puppet performer, my artistic journey has been shaped by a profound passion for exploration and a relentless pursuit of innovation. Inspired by the teachings of renowned practitioners like Paulette Richards, participation with the artistic community of Intercultural Roots, and my recent completion of an MSc in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health, I find myself embarking on a new chapter in my artistic practice—performance art.

Paulette Richards' workshops on the Metaphysics of Object Performance have been particularly influential in shaping my artistic vision. Her insights into the deeper philosophical implications of manipulation challenged me to explore beyond the surface level of puppetry and delve into the underlying concepts of humanity, autonomy, agency, and interconnectedness. Similarly, my academic studies in psychology and neuroscience have provided me with a scientific and biological angle to my understanding of humanity, enriching my approach to my practice and understanding of manipulation.

Collaborations with the artistic community of Intercultural Roots have further expanded my horizons, exposing me to diverse cultural perspectives and artistic traditions, including intensive courses with Anishinaabe people. These experiences have inspired my curiosity and enriched my practice immeasurably touching my understanding on a profoundly level.

Drawing upon this rich tapestry of influences, I am currently inspired to create performance art that challenges traditional norms of my puppetry training and pushes the boundaries of understanding of manipulation. Through immersive somatic, philosophical and manipulation techniques, I seek to investigate these concepts through work with the elements of water, wind, fire and earth. Water, with its fluidity and transformative nature, serves as a powerful metaphor for the complexities of human existence and our interconnectedness with the natural world. It is also incredibly difficult to manipulate and I hope to incorporate this challenge as reflecting the philosophical dilemmas the challenge provokes.

As I embark on this journey, I am guided by a sense of curiosity, wonder, and a deep appreciation for the transformative power of art. Each investigation offers an opportunity to explore new territories, challenge preconceptions, and inspire reflection. Through my work, I hope to spark meaningful dialogue about the human condition, our relationship with the environment, and the possibilities of artistic expression. In addition, my practice represents a personal journey of growth and development. The challenges and triumphs encountered along the way contribute to my evolution as an artist, enriching my practice and shaping my future creative endeavors.

May we all be more curious and ever question through performative play.


Janet - Object Manipulation Performance, 2008


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Projects and exhibitions


Janet - Object Manipulation Performance


The performance was part of FeastFest an international festival across the borough of Newham exploring food and art.

Applecart Arts, London Details

Janet - Object Manipulation Performance


Performance in FeastFest - a festival celebrating performance and food in London

The Factory Details
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