The Wire


Hanna Tuulikki crowdfunding outdoor performance on Hebridean island

Glasgow based vocalist and composer Hanna Tuulikki is crowdfunding two performances of Air Falbh Leis Na H-eòin (Away With The Birds), her composition and choreography work which explores the vocal mimesis of birds in the Gaelic folk tradition.

The project was performed in Glasgow last year (watch a video here) and since then Tuulikki has been developing the piece, working with the archives of folklorists John Lorne Campbell and Margaret Fay Shaw on Canna, a small island south of Skye (population 14), plus choreographers and costume designers.

At the end of August Tuulikki wants to stage a performance of the piece in the harbour on Canna, and is looking to raise £5,000 for production costs including red-legged neoprene costumes, designed by artist Deirdre Nelson, so the piece can be staged in the water. "As the tide comes in, the performance will begin," she says, "blending together the natural surroundings with the culture of Canna and the Hebrides."

The score is the basis for the piece, a 2.75 meter long pen and ink work, made from weaving together fragments of songs and poems that imitate or emulate birds. "Each of the five movements represents a different habitat and bird community," says Tuulikki, "wader, sea bird, wildfowl, corvid, and cuckoo."

In the development of the choreography and vocal parts, she's begun to see new connections: "As well as imitating the birds, the songs carry symbolic and cultural meaning," she says. "One thing that I love about them, and it came as a surprise to me when I realised it, is that they are nearly all sung from a woman’s perspective: songs about the men out hunting the seabirds on the cliffs and waulking songs about love, to magico-religious songs such as "The Redshank" - a keening song to sing the departed safely over to the spirit world - or the song of the oystercatcher, who does St Bride’s work of caring for children. I see now that, as much as this project is about birds, and ancient traditional culture, it is also about women."

If the Kickstarter target is met two performances on Canna will take place on 29 and 30 August. "We are still using traditional funding routes, but were just shy of the total, says assistant project producer Emmie McKay. "The performance on Canna is a return to the heart of the project, and there are many people who cannot be there in person who want to keep supporting us. The Kickstarter allows people to do this by pledging money or sharing the information."

Tickets will cost £15 for adults and £10 for children, with a camping pitch for two costing £14. The island can be reached via a two and a half hour ferry ride from Mallaig, which runs each morning. A boat will also be chartered for the Friday evening. Rewards for backing the project include socks, recordings, workshops and more. Watch the crowdfunding video below, and read more here.