Contemporary Visual Arts Programme 2020 - Ilana Halperin: There Is A Volcano Behind My House

12th February 2020

Contemporary Visual Arts Programme 2020 - Ilana Halperin: There Is A Volcano Behind My House

After serious consideration, and in light of recent announcements from the Government and World Health Organization, Mount Stuart Trust regretfully announces Ilana Halperin's exhibition, launch event and artist talk will be postponed until 2021.

Ilana Halperin, ‘Excerpts from the Library’, 2020 (detail)

“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. It was as if the house itself was an Anthropocene phenomena, among the many geologic wonders one could encounter on the island.” Ilana Halperin

Mount Stuart Trust is delighted to announce a solo exhibition by Ilana Halperin this spring. The artist will create works inspired by the geology of the island of Bute where she now spends much of her time. Situated throughout the house, four distinct yet contiguous series of sculptures, works on paper and textile will reference ‘immigrant’ minerals embedded in the fabric of the building, as well as geologic phenomena found on the island. Halperin describes this work as a constellation combining personal, poetic and corporeal responses to the house and island.

Carefully situated in the heart of the house, Halperin’s watercolours form the key and the foundation to her works at Mount Stuart. Increasingly complex in form and palette, they represent the processes of formation, erosion and growth throughout the years and the seasons. They include references to the Suidhe, the volcano of the exhibition title, which sits behind Halperin’s home on Bute, and the Highland Boundary Fault Line, which bisects the island, and binds two migratory landmasses together.

The exhibition references the materials found within the built fabric of Mount Stuart, for instance the shimmering Mica on the ceiling of the Drawing Room. Sourcing mica which ranges in age from 400 – 800 hundred million years old from Maine, Massachusetts and near Contin in Invernesshire, Halperin will exhibit laser etched ‘books’ of Mica alongside research, archival material and contemporary critique. She explores the relationship between industrial and natural processes and reflects on the heritage of the Victorian brick works, which once operated on the island. Continuing her work with the longstanding Fontaines Pétrifiantes de Saint-Nectaire in France, she has submitted a series of eroded bricks and Victorian drainage tiles to the same process that forms stalactites in caves, or indeed in more domestic settings such as within the Mount Stuart Boathouse. The relationship between deep time, memory and the domestic, is echoed in the display of these objects throughout the various spaces in the house.

Textile, through the weaving of warp and weft, is constructed, like geology, of strata. Halperin has worked in conjunction with island-based designer and producer Bute Fabrics to make two textile works to be displayed in the domestic interior of the Mount Stuart Family and Horoscope Bedrooms. The works are woven on a jacquard loom and make a gesture to temporarily replace a lost historical fabric work. The textile works make homage to the particular colour palette of the island, the shades of sea, rock and hill.

It is important to note that Ilana Halperin’s works are discreetly autobiographical in nature. Her exhibition works hold a story, enhanced in her performative talks. To this end, she will undertake two performative talks in a special island location combining the voices of her personal volcanic field notes with material from the Mount Stuart Archive. For these performances Halperin will be joined by Andrew Patrizio, Professor of Scottish Visual Culture at the University of Edinburgh.

Ilana Halperin was born in New York in 1973. She is currently based between Glasgow and the Isle of Bute. Her work explores the relationship between geology and daily life. She combines fieldwork in diverse locations – on volcanoes in Hawaii, caves in France, geothermal springs in Japan - and in museums, archives and laboratories, with an active studio-based practice. Her work has featured in solo exhibitions worldwide including Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité, Artists Space in New York and the Manchester Museum. She was the Inaugural Artist Fellow at National Museums Scotland and Artist-Curator of Geology for Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. The Library of Earth Anatomy, a permanent commission at The Exploratorium in San Francisco opened in 2017. Schering Stiftung, Berlin has published a monograph on her work entitled New Landmass. Currently, she is exploring the Karst landscapes of Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan for The Rock Cycle, an interlinked project between Akiyoshidai Natural History Museum, Akiyoshidai International Artist Village and Pier Arts Centre Orkney. Her recent solo exhibition Minerals of New York opened at Leeds Arts University, and then toured to The Hunterian in 2019.

Her upcoming exhibition at Patricia Fleming Gallery Excerpts from the Library runs during Glasgow International Festival 24 April to 10 May as part of its Across The City programme. Excerpts From The Library and There Is A Volcano Behind My House bring together an expansive new body of work by the artist on both sites.

Halperin is represented by Patricia Fleming, Glasgow.

Image Credit:

Ilana Halperin, ‘Excerpts from the Library’, 2020 (detail)

400 million year old book of laser etched mica. Made in collaboration with Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Studio. Courtesy of the artist and Patricia Fleming, Glasgow.

Notes for Editors:

Mount Stuart is an extraordinary Neo-Gothic mansion on the Island of Bute, sitting between Glasgow, Argyll and Ayrshire on the Firth of Clyde. Since 2001, this unorthodox building has provided both the inspiration and location for an acclaimed contemporary visual arts programme.

Through the Contemporary Visual Arts Programme, Mount Stuart Trust aims to promote and facilitate interest in the contemporary visual arts and bring exhibitions of international standard to Bute and Argyll. Complementing each exhibition is a programme of events, publications and educational activities. Please check for regular updates.

The next exhibition to open this year at Mount Stuart will be Abbas Akhavan from August through October 2020.

For further information and press images please contact:

Morven Gregor,

Charlotte Rogers,

For further information relating to Glasgow International please contact:

Patricia Fleming,

This project is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.