Love grandmother seal
by LHOTSE COLLINS
29 August 2023 - 30 October 2023
Deep in the dark bluish shadows of a kelp forest a clamshell slowly breathes in sand. A small child lives in its warm belly, partly human, party seal. They are called child but their body is old and their hair grey. They are slowly searching for something. Their small pruned fingers trace the interior, Some say they're learning to write back and forward in time, some say they are remembering - We all know fish are the keepers of tales.
Selkies and other sea folk are often seen swimming down to visit the clam child, they bring stories for the child to store in the clam. They have all kinds of tales to tell, news of whale migrations, of spawning fish, some of toxic rivers and violent nets of boats arriving and violence continuing.
Selkie’s sometimes bring their stories in the form of objects for the child to search, a starfish, a stone, fishing line or a plastic sandcastle mould. They are objects from the low tide line, objects which like the selkie’s and the child are both land and sea, fur and skin. The child runs their hands over these, committing their stories to their archive-like body. They hum to an ancient beat. The child begins to sing along,
‘What is this hum you are singing?’A selkie asks, as the familiar yet forgotten song surrounds her. The clam child is used to questions as they are a keeper of stories, and many folk these days forget.
‘It is the song of how to be both’ the child replies.
Dear Future, Love Grandmother Seal. floats amongst a myriad of oceanic entanglements, hoping for embodied reconnection with our oceanic past and present. From my settler colonial position, I consider traditional watery tales of selkies and mermaids, as a method to remember forgotten interspecies kinships. These stories are conjurings for remembering as a process for reworlding. Caught in the same tide are histories of global capitalism and colonialism. Wading into entangled histories is held as a potential method for activating the cultural shifts needed inorder to take embodied climate action. Dear future, love grandmother seal, asks audiences to remember their connections with and separation from as a catalyst to actively create different futures.
I remember historical pasts in order to find lost futures. These stories are conjurings for remembering as a process for reworlding. These studies often focus on ways in which my settler colonial context determines how I relate to place and more-than-human beings. Searching for ways to relearn or remember other ways of being, I consider my relations with the matter as a way to rebuild forgotten interspecies kinships. These speculations manifest as sculptural installations, weavings, drawings, writings, workshops, activism or just ponderings.