Bute geology a core feature of new exhibition

Bute artist Ilana Halprin on a visit to the Sakurajima volcano in Japan.

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Bute resident Ilana Halperin has created new work inspired by the geology of the island as part of the 20th anniversary year of visual arts at Mount Stuart.

One of her largest solo exhibitions to date, the work examines the relationship between rocks and minerals, family and the deep time of the Earth.

Ilana Halperin, The Library (detail), 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Patricia Fleming, Glasgow.

There is a Volcano Behind My House launches online on May 8 and will open, in line with government guideline, at Mount Stuart on Sunday June 6 to Sunday August 15.

Situated throughout the Mount Stuart building, specially commissioned sculptures and watercolours reference ‘immigrant’ minerals that form the objects and architecture of the neo-gothic Mount Stuart House.

A series of 36 watercolours in Mount Stuart’s upper gallery is a direct response to the geology of Bute.

A new site specific work in Mount Stuart’s library references the shimmering Mica in the ceiling of the Drawing Room. A sculpture where notions of geological time collapse and morph will be in the Mount Stuart Crypt.

Ilana Halperin, Pseudomorph Sisters, 2019. Photograph: Alan Dimmick. Courtesy of the artist and Patricia Fleming, Glasgow.

Originally from the US, Halperin describes the exhibition as a constellation, combining personal, poetic and corporeal responses to the house and island.

‘When I made these works before the pandemic, I had been imagining and trying to conjure more expansive ways of thinking about my own family, from very deep time family lines drawn in the calcium carbonate of our teeth and bones, to more immediate alternative families based not only on blood, but on how we choose each other, how we love each other, who and how we support one another,’ she explained.

For the exhibition, Halperin has worked with designer and producer Bute Fabrics to create two large scale woven textile works inspired by her field studies.

Alongside the exhibition, Mount Stuart and Patricia Fleming Gallery are working together with the artist to develop Excerpts from The Library: An Audio Field Guide, which will be available to listen to and download online.

‘The first time I visited Mount Stuart, many years ago, I was struck by the deep geologic nature of the house, from the core samples of marble which travelled up from Sicily – immigrant rocks settled in their new home; to the petrified seas found in the fossil rich limestone of the vast stairwell in the Great Hall,’ she added.

‘It was as if the house itself was an Anthropocene phenomena, among the many geologic wonders one could encounter on the island.’

As an immigrant herself, a New Yorker who lives and works in Scotland, Halprin views her own movements as a fleeting continuation of a much older migratory tradition, one also enacted by her relatives who fled during seismic waves of pogroms. Her work is an evolving embodiment of geologic and human migration and change.