Earthbound Whisperers explores relationships between bodies and landscapes and how surfaces accumulate traces of histories within
During an artist residency with Tate St Ives in 2022, Hera Büyüktaşcıyan became fascinated with Cornwall’s megalithic stones and the legends related to them. In Cornish mythology, these standing stones often reference human bodies: folklore tells of women petrified as punishment for singing and dancing on the Sabbath. Büyüktaşcıyan’s installation explores parallels between these mythical women and the female workforces of St Ives textile factories in the mid-twentieth century. Contributing to the World War Two effort, these skilled local workers also manufactured camouflage nets in a factory on The Island (across from Tate St Ives). Working in enforced silence, they hand-tied strips of fabric onto fishing nets, creating abstractions of the landscape that would protect civilian buildings by concealing them.
Büyüktaşcıyan references these social and environmental histories of Cornwall in her use of textile, graphite (a stone powder), sound and upright forms. Her sculpted fabric forms embody lithic (stone-like) surfaces concealed within the drapes and folds, symbolic of archaeological strata and imaginary landscapes. Considering human traces evident within nature, Earthbound Whisperers vocalises histories hidden deep within landscapes and politics of invisibility and erasure.
A version of this installation is shown at the 14th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (April – June 2023). A limited-edition journal about Hera Büyüktaşcıyan’s research in Cornwall and the development of this work is available from the Tate St Ives shop.
The exhibition Earthbound Whisperers is curated by Anne Barlow, Director, with Giles Jackson, Assistant Curator, Tate St Ives. Commissioned by Tate St Ives and the 14th Gwangju Biennale. Supported by SAHA – Supporting Contemporary Art from Turkey.