Image: Dom Moore

Seals’kin: calling for the turning of the tide

13 Nov 2022, 9:00am


Last November, British-Finnish artist, composer and performer Hanna Tuulikki led an improvised waterside performance at Devil’s Point, Plymouth, exploring seal calling songs as practices of making kin. This site specific vocal improvisation was performed by a choir of local singers and grew out of an introductory workshop rooted in Tuulikki’s exploratory vocal practice. This workshop and performance are part of a larger body of work, exploring myths of human-seal hybridity and folkloric musical practices to offer alternative forms of identification with more-than-human kin.

Seals’kin in Plymouth was delivered by KARST as part of British Art Show 9, with support from Paul Mellon Centre. This project was produced in Plymouth by Flock South West.

For a window into the ideas and processes behind Hanna’s breathtaking performance, check out the film below…

Film: Amber Amare


00:12 Hi. My name is Hanna Tuulikki and I’m an artist, composer and performer based in Glasgow.

00:21 I have lived in Scotland since 2003. Scottish culture and landscape filtered into my work and informed my work in many ways. The work that I have been sharing here in Plymouth is a project called Seals’kin which is inspired by Selkie Mythology which is rooted in Scottish traditions. 

00:52 At the heart of what I do I work with the body, explore ways of communicating stories that speak beyond or before language. I explore this with my voice through extended vocal improvisation and composition and with movement, with gesture, with dance. This work with the body is realized in live contexts, within performances, participatory performance and multi channel audio visual installations. And then there’s another element of my practice which is drawing which underpins my process and I create visual scores which help within rehearsal and then they also find their way into sharing spaces with audiences. So sometimes a visual score can be a way to access a particular meaning within a work. 

01:57 My practice has changed over the years. I was making music with friends, discovering the joys of improvised music. I remember sitting down and giving myself permission to use my voice in my practice to find a synthesis between visual and performance forms. Some years down the line about ten years later I gave myself permission to start exploring dance. There’s been this slow return to things that brought me joy as a child. A little part of the work that I make is speaking to younger Hana and say it’s okay to be you. 

03:01 To feel together, to become relational, to ground ourselves within listening to each other and the place we were in. And through that there is the possibility of transformation. I hope that people can take a part of the experience today into the everyday. 

03:29 I would like to continue within future research and future projects exploring this felt place of grief, anxiety, anger, trauma that comes with ecological awareness. How we can sit with those or stay with the trouble of those difficult feelings and harness radical hope to support change in ourselves and in our communities. Another aspect is considering which bodies are mourn-able. Thinking about species lost, biodiversity lost. Finding ways to question which of our kin we can grieve together. Another aspect is creating a space for people to come together to do something. That liveness, that participation – but a kind of gentle participation that is about these moments of community.