Skip to main content

Women of the Hill

CCA, Glasgow
Four stars


The low whoosh of rolling thunder that slices through the air at the start of Hanna Tuulikki’s reimagining of her dramatic song cycle originally seen on Skye in 2015 is given extra low-flying heft by the gargantuan figure creating it. Towering some twenty-odd feet in height, with the train of her pure white dress billowing beneath and sporting a plant-based head-dress created by artist Caroline Dear, the instrument she spins above her head is as deadly as the wordless chorale that emanates from her mouth. As embodied by Tuulikki herself with monumental grace, this is Cailleach, the ancient goddess of winter, and she’s spoiling for a fight.

She gets one too when Lucy Duncombe enters as her opposite number, Bride, attempting to hold on to all that blossoms in the face of the coming freeze, but dwarfed somewhat by the opposing elements. As the pair spar in and out of harmony, their to-and-fro exchanges morph into a primal form of flyting. A third voice, from Nerea Bello, sees the trio keen with mournful abandon, laying the old seasons to rest before the new one blows in.

Tuulikki’s creation was first performed in the open-air beside the hidden underground of Skye’s High Pasture Cave and was originally commissioned by the island’s ATLAS Arts organisation. This indoor reimagining accompanied the CCA’s Lilt, Twang, Tremor exhibition, which Tuulikki shares with Sarah Rose and Susannah Stark. Over the piece’s forty-five-minute duration, a matriarchal sense of unity is conjured up with a kinetic intensity that eventually gives way to playfulness. Going on this showing, it deserves to have a more substantial run, be it indoors or out. By the end, it becomes a form of purging, with Tuulikki and co shouting out loud for what they’ve lost, but more importantly for everything that lies ahead.


The Herald, January 15th 2018


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

James Ley - Love Song to Lavender Menace

James Ley had never heard of Lavender Menace when he won an LGBT History Month Scotland Cultural Commission award to write a new play. While Edinburgh's pioneering gay book shop that existed between 1982 and 1987 before reinventing itself in new premises as West and Wilde wasn't on Ley's radar, he had vaguely heard of the Gentlemen's Head Quarters, the nickname for the public toilet that existed at the east end of Princes Street outside Register House. He was also half aware of Fire Island, the legendary gay nightclub that existed at the west end of Princes Street in a space that now forms the top floor of Waterstone's book shop.

As he discovered, Fire Island was a central focal point for what was then a still largely underground gay scene in Edinburgh's capital. Alongside the likes of the Laughing Duck pub on Howe Street, Fire Island was one of the few places where HI-NRG music could be heard in what would these days be dubbed a safe space for gay men and wo…