Artist, composer and performer Hanna Tuulikki (b. 1982) works across a range of media and forms. She specialises in composing for and with the voice, creating textural tapestries of extended vocal sound that sit at the heart of live performances, films and audiovisual installations. Blending musical composition with gestural choreography and iconic costume, she augments the work with ‘satellite elements’ – innovative visual-scores, intricate drawings, and poetic texts – which act as dramaturgical keys, unlocking subject-matter or narrative.
Hanna’s approach is relational: she embraces place-responsive processes and collaborates with practitioners from diverse fields. In research-led, multi-disciplinary projects she considers how sound, gesture and language frame our connection with our environment, the more-than-human and one another, re-imagining resonant stories of contemporary relevance. In recent years she has explored ‘mnemonic topographies: the land encoded in the song, the lore embedded in the land’; ‘mimetic protolanguage: lexicons of signing voice and singing body’; and ‘gendered voice’.
Her largest project to date, Air falbh leis na h-eòin | Away with the Birds (2010-2015) is a body of multi-disciplinary work investigating the mimesis of birds in traditional Scottish Gaelic song. At its heart is a vocal composition for female ensemble, composed from fragments of songs woven into an extended soundscape. It was performed in the harbour on the Isle of Canna in August 2014, with a digital, interactive iteration launched in 2015. The visual score, habitat drawings and audio are currently on show at BALTIC, Gateshead.
Other recent projects include tidesongs (2017), a composition for multi-layered voice and vocal processing, exploring tidal languages from mouth to sea and back again; cloud-cuckoo-island (2016), a film featuring a solo vocal improvisation in a natural amphitheatre on the Isle of Eigg, exploring madness, mythology and gender; SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY (2016), an audiovisual installation inspired by India’s mnemonic landscapes and the relationship between river-systems, the body, and Kutiyattam theatre (winner of New Music Scotland Award 2017); Sea Psalm (2016), a choral composition responding to a twelfth-century, Orcadian hymn fragment; Women of the Hill (2015), a site-specific performance featuring a song-cycle for three female performers, responding to archaeology and topography of an Iron-age, matrifocal, sacred site on Skye; SING SIGN: a close duet (2015), a site-specific performance and film installation for the Royal Mile, featuring a score for male and female duo, representing the body-in-communication in relation to gender and the city through wordless song and gesture (shortlisted for British Composer Award 2016); spinning-in-stereo (2014), a composition for two voices based on a traditional Gaelic spinning song, presented as visual score and vinyl LP; heart-to-heart (2014), bronze bells cast from a heart-shaped stone; A Rose in the Dawn | A Wake to the Dream (2014) lithographs of two pictorial alphabets; sea saw the circle (2012), a composition for string quartet and musical saw, with visual score; High-slack-low-slack-high (2012), a site-specific composition and performance for four voices and megaphones, using tidal data for the River Clyde.
Her critically acclaimed work is featured regularly on radio (BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 6), and has been commissioned, presented and exhibited by national and international organisations across fields of visual, musical and performing arts, including Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Edinburgh Art Festival, Glasgow 2014’s Cultural Programme, The Space/Creative Scotland, BALTIC, BBC, Tramway, Cape Farewell, ATLAS arts, Tectonics, Dovecot, Timespan, Travelling Gallery for GENERATION, Glasgow International, Cape Farewell, RSA, Red Note Ensemble, and Cappella Nova amongst others.
She studied at Glasgow School of Art’s Environmental Art department and graduated in 2006. She now lives in Newhaven, Edinburgh, with her partner and their books, near her studio at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.
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“Hanna is an exceptional artist – her work is utterly original, searching and humane. She works fluidly across art forms, always seeking to expand the communicative possibilities and points of access to her projects. She brings her fierce and associative imagination to marginal cultural forms, vulnerable places, languages, and communities of practice, unearthing and reimagining stories of relevance and resonance in our troubled times.”
Ruth Little, Dramturg and Director of Cape Farewell
“A chance to hear the sky brought down to earth, absolutely stunning”
Tim Dee, BBC broadcaster
“Enchanting, beautiful and completely original”
Mark Cocker, author of ‘Crow Country’ and ‘Birds and People’
“Encapsulating the strength of Scotland’s spirit and sure sense of self.”
Janet Archer, Creative Scotland