Hetain Patel

Hetain Patel

Hetain Patel is a visual artist and performance maker whose practise crosses a number of art forms. His works have been shown in institutions including Bodhi Art, New York; Sydney Festival; Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai; and the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing. This year he completed new commissions for the Tanks at Tate Modern; the Southbank Centre; and John Hansard Gallery, Southampton. Hetain undertook a week of research in Sadler’s Wells in 2012 with eight dancers, and is due to premiere a new theatre piece, Be Like Water, at the Royal Opera House, London in November 2012.

Post-tour reflections

BLW tour van


I’m just back from a UK tour of my latest live work, Be Like Water. As I’ve mentioned before it has been the most demanding project I have ever worked on. Reflections on this are ongoing but below are initial ones that I’m finding useful to write down, both to clear my head a bit, and to start to confront or give shape to some of the possibilities for the next step:


  • We had a 2 month gap between the premiere and this national tour – because of this we needed to find a different momentum and excitement to the one provided by the premiere. I have to admit, because of the physically demanding and precarious nature of the tech-heavy set-up, I wasn’t short of anxiety. I was worried about how this would affect my creative and performance energy.


  • Once things got underway I was reminded why I do actually enjoy touring live work – as the touring team got to know each other better, the piece became more fluid and we were able to make changes to it in a satisfyingly collaborative way that felt like an extension of what the piece is about. Audience response everywhere has been incredibly positive. Some of this touching feedback really does make the graft worthwhile. I know art is important but as we all know, sometimes this is hidden under admin and fighting for money/support-  its great to strongly feel it’s benefits sometimes.


  • I think the reason this project has felt like so much hard work is because of the numbers of people involved. We got management and producer support very late into the process so the stress of managing a team of 10 logistically/financially was initially on my shoulders with support from Eva Martinez.


  • I’m thinking now about the different shapes the support model for my practice could take. It might be an ongoing obvious thing to say but I want to change the weighting between being an artist and a business, spending more time researching and making work. The challenge I suppose is that it isn’t always easy to identify what it is that you need. I am starting to get there. More to follow…

Interviewing myself

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past few weeks talking in different voices so I thought for this first blog it would be appropriate to interview myself:

HP:                  So Hetain you’re looking very handsome today.

HP:                  Thanks.

HP:                  Only joking. You actually look quite tired. I take it you’ve been busy lately?

HP:                  Oh… Yes, very busy. For the past 3 weeks I’ve been in Nottingham working all hours making a new piece called Be Like Water. We just previewed it last week at Curve, Leicester.

HP:                  I see. How did it go?

HP:                  It was probably the most intense making period I’ve ever been through for a single piece of work. Its been in development for the past 2 years, and during these 3 weeks, a lot of energy went into it from the whole team. I was happy with the preview. It needs a bit of work before the premiere in November but there is time.

HP:                  Great. I saw on your website that you are also currently touring your previous piece TEN. Was it easy to step back into this after the making period of a new piece?

HP:                  Yes and No. TEN is really ingrained into my memory now so it was easy to perform, even after what had been a 9 month break from it. However we had a bit of a nightmare in that one of the performers dropped out a few weeks ago so I had to find and train someone new, all during the making period of Be Like Water.

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