This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Deborah Caulfield reviews Throw Them up and Let Them Sing / 2 September 2012

Sign outside the room where the film  is showing

Sign outside the room where the film is showing,

Zoom in to this image and read text description

Tucked away in  little room at the far end of the Festival of the World Museum, this film, by artist filmmaker Helen Petts, explores the later years of Kurt Schwitters’ life and work, following the German artist’s journey to Ambleside in the Lake District where Schwitters escaped Nazi persecution because of his ‘degenerate’ arts and his epilepsy.

With no commentary and no subtitles, no words whatsoever, this beautiful film is a collage in pictures and sound.

Scenes include someone playing percussion with paint brushes, accompanying Schwitters as he makes music with his body, dressed in shirt and tie.

Intertwined with stunning shots of mist covered mountains, waterfalls that rush and tumble over rocks, we see Schwitters creating music with bicycle wheel, saw, plastic protractor, lumps of polystyrene, and all manner of natural and mechanical objects.

Close-up images of water and wood grain, stone and swaying grass, cobwebs and concrete, fields and flowers linger, unhurried, in pure luxurious naturalness.

This film has introduced me to the work of Schwitters and Petts. I plan to find out more.


Keywords: helen petts,kurt schwitters