There is a Volcano Behind My House: launches online 8 May 2021

16th April 2021

There is a Volcano Behind My House: launches online 8 May 2021

Ilana Halperin creates new body of work for Mount Stuart House inspired by the geology of Bute

  • Exhibition launch online and new filmed tour available: 8 May 2021
  • Exhibition dates: 6 June to 16 August 2021
  • Launch of a companion audio work by the artist, Excerpts from The Library, part of Glasgow International: from 11 June 2021
  • Ilana Halperin and Sophie Crichton Stuart in conversation: 15 August 2021

For one of her largest solo exhibitions to date, and as part of the 20th anniversary year of visual arts at Mount Stuart, Ilana Halperin (b.USA, lives Bute and Glasgow) has created new works inspired by the geology of the island of Bute.

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

Halperin’s work examines the relationships between rocks and minerals, between family and the deep time of the Earth. The geologic phenomena of the island becomes the backdrop to the exhibition: the extinct volcano behind her island home, the title.

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

Ilana Halperin explains, "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”

A series of 36 watercolours in Mount Stuart’s upper gallery is a direct response to the geology of Bute. In increasingly complex forms and palette, Halperin’s watercolours form the key and the foundation to her works at Mount Stuart. Carefully situated in the heart of the house they represent the processes of formation, erosion and growth throughout the years and the seasons. They include references to the Suidhe, the volcano behind Halperin’s home on Bute, and the Highland Boundary Fault Line, which bisects the island, and binds two migratory landmasses together.

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. She notes “Textile, like sedimentary rock, is produced through an incremental process of growth - a geology of accumulated material.”

A new site specific work in Mount Stuart’s library, meanwhile, references the shimmering Mica in the ceiling of the Drawing Room. Sourcing mica that is hundreds of millions of years old from both sides of the Atlantic, Halperin presents an alternative geologic library of laser etched ‘books’ of Mica alongside research and archival material.

In the Mount Stuart Crypt will be a sculptural installation where notions of geological time collapse and morph. Continuing her work with the Fontaines Pétrifiantes de Saint-Nectaire in France, Halperin has submitted a series of eroded clay bricks and Victorian drainage tiles originally made on Bute to the same process that forms stalactites in caves. New hybrid rocks will be on view.

Alongside the exhibition, Mount Stuart and Patricia Fleming Gallery are working together with Halperin to develop Excerpts from The Library: An Audio Field Guide, which will be available to listen to and download online. The piece will also feature contributions from Dr. Andrew Patrizio. Presented as part of Glasgow International 2021, the field guide builds on Halperin’s narrative performative lectures to tell a new story of love, lava, loss and the unexpected journeys that we now find ourselves on together. Leading from the Fossil Grove in Glasgow, deep into the exhibition at Mount Stuart and on to a quiet volcanic basin nearby, listeners are invited to embark on this domestic geologic field excursion.

Two additional online events will also take place this summer, an artist talk with a panel of geologists and the artist in conversation with Sophie Crichton Stuart. Details will be announced shortly and events will be held subject to government guidelines.

Ilana Halperin adds, “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”.

As an immigrant herself, a New Yorker who lives and works in Scotland, Halperin 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.

Ilana Halperin in represented by Patricia Fleming Gallery, Glasgow.

About Glasgow International

Glasgow International is Scotland’s world-renowned biennial festival of contemporary art. Glasgow International showcases the best of local and international art for wide-ranging audiences. The festival continues to showcase Glasgow as a unique major centre for the production and display of contemporary visual art. Taking place in various venues and locations across the city, including Glasgow’s major art spaces and cultural institutions, the Festival comprises an ambitious programme which includes exhibitions, events, talks, performances and projects by international and Glasgow-based artists. Gi2021 runs 11-27 June and will be a hybrid festival with both in-person exhibitions and a digital festival online at

For more information about the Contemporary Visual Arts Programme at Mount Stuart contact:

Morven Gregor, or

Charlotte Rogers,

For press information contact:

Nicola Jeffs, or

Owen O’Leary,