Holly Birtles : Project ‘Volcano Mother’ with performance by – Hannah Grasskamp

Holly Birtles will discuss work in progress which includes project Volcano Mother and recent associated exhibitions and performances. The presentation will also reference a recent curatorial project titled Seismic Mother. Seismic Mother is an exhibition that captured the work of 20 artists whose work attempts to communicate the seemingly incomprehensible nature of the earth’s magnitude and magnificence, temerity and resilience as it endures, regenerates and struggles to survive through the slow violence of ecological catastrophe.

Volcano Mother represents a pseudo theatrical production and presents backstage and rehearsal instances whereby members of the cast contemplate and practice their role as selected volcanoes. Elaborate props are made in which represent interpretations of surfaces and structures of selected stratovolcanoes, shield volcanoes, lava domes and calderas; the props are designed to be wearable outfits. These choreographed performance works explore singing, spoken word and movement. The short performances are recorded through the photographic medium during the staged events. Performances represent volatile emissions of gas, ash, and dust, including inner dialogs linked to eruptions and hot spots. Volcano Mother conveys environmental vulnerability through humorous and serious performances, whilst highlighting ecologies linked to selected volcanoes via painterly, textures, props and ephemeral structures. The use of (and manipulation of) the archive plays a crucial role in the contextualisation of the sculptural and performative response; often archive images are paired with the performance images. The archive also enables the integration of volcanic surfaces that exist on other planets. The title responds to Sontag’s novel Volcano Lover which is a love story set in 18th century Naples based on Emma and Sir William Hamilton including depictions of regular trips up Mount Vesuvius and obsessive collecting from the surface of the volcano.

  • There will be a live performance by Hannah Grasskamp for 15 minutes in the space that coincides with the project.

Date: Wednesday 15th November 2023 
Time: 15:30–17:00 
Who can attend: All
Where: Grand Parade, Sallis Benney Theatre 

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