Helen Sharp was Artistic Director of the Body Voice Centre which was established in 1994. Along with exhibiting exceptional skills in demolition and studio building Helen led a wide range of workshops and research performance projects at the Centre. Other work as a director included new Australian plays at La Mama, multilingual community theatre productions, large scale street theatre events and mask/stilt work. She received the 1999 Eva Czajor memorial award for women directors. Helen was a founding member of In the Company of Others and director of the performance and research project Visceral Philosophy.
Helen taught in Performance Studies at Victoria University, VCA Drama School, Sunbury and Ballarat Tafe, Murdoch University WA and in the Women’s Circus. Helen was a qualified Middendorf breathwork practitioner and a PhD candidate at Victoria University – in 2007 she received the Vice Chancellors scholarship to undertake post graduate research in performance. Her research project had two working titles: “Breathing Philosophy: embodiment, encounter, ethics” and “Breathing Performance: breath, sensation, presence”. The thesis encompasses perceptual breath practices and performance making in dialogue with philosophical texts. It is an continuation and e l aboration of her Honours project, “Encounters with the Breath: Nine introductions” (2006). There is a pdf of this available on the website of In the Company of Others. Click here for link. She also contributed a chapter entitled “Breath as Methodology” to Live Research: methods of practice-led inquiry in performance, edited by Leah Mercer, Julie Robson, and David Fenton, published by Ladyfinger in 2012.
In September 2011 Helen was diagnosed with 4th stage cancer. Helen preferred to keep her health situation private and let only family and close friends know. As time and the demands of treatment allowed she continued with her breathwork and her PhD project, keeping alive a hope that her aggressive tumours might become quiescent.
Helen died peacefully early in the morning of Sunday 16 December 2012 with her husband and partner, John Howard, and her sister, Jenny Sharp, by her side.
Helen was a remarkable woman who will be sorely missed by many - family, friends, collaborators, students, and others who came within her special field of presence.
Photo by Julie Joy Clarke