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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

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